Geomorphology ( IF 3.819 ) Pub Date : 2020-11-10 , DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107509 Livio Ronchi; Alessandro Fontana; Kim M. Cohen; Esther Stouthamer
While recent landscape changes can be usually easily read through accessible morphological features, relatively ancient processes can be difficult to detect as the associated morphologies and deposits are often buried below younger sediments. With the aim of understanding the evolution of the distal Venetian-Friulian Plain (NE Italy) after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), this work presents the analysis performed on a dataset of ca. 2300 mechanical and hand-made cores, which allowed a detailed reconstruction of the formation and evolution of an incised valley, now almost completely filled and with little to absent morphologic expression. Such valley, up to 1.2 km wide, with a depth of 20 m below the LGM alluvial plain and traced for a length of 25 km, is the result of the complex interplay between minor spring-fed rivers and the Tagliamento River. The detailed characterization of the infilling allowed to identify two main phases in the valley evolution. The first one is related to the activity of the paleo Tagliamento River and led to the deposition of a 10 m thick gravelly unit (ca. 19–9.5 ka cal BP). The second phase, which followed a disconnection of the Tagliamento, is linked to the Holocene marine transgression and led to the formation of a lagoon environment within the valley and to the deposition of a ca. 15 m thick unit of lagoon muds (ca. 8 ka cal BP - historic time). This latter unit lays on top of gyttja deposits, indicating for the first time in this area the presence of widespread lacustrine environments in the Early Holocene. This work presents an in-depth analysis on the evolution of a distal plain incised valley, from its formation to its final filling, providing at the same time the means to describe the development of the entire alluvial plain landscape, spanning from the end of the LGM to the middle Holocene. We present new data on the paleoenvironmental and morphologic evolution of the Venetian-Friulian Plain area as a consequence of the interplay between autogenic forces and sea-level rise. Our study allowed to understand the importance of both Alpine rivers and groundwater-fed streams in the formation of large incised valleys in the coastal sector of the whole Venetian-Friulian Plain. Finally, as during the transgressive phase the upstream sediment input in the valley was almost absent, this study provides insights into facies and architecture of a rare example of downstream-controlled filling of an incised valley.