International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 7, pp 2489–2502 | Cite as

Quaternary over-elevated torrential channels. Characteristics and depositional significance: the Maresme model (Catalonia, NE Spain)

  • Ferran Colombo
  • Lluis Rivero
Original Paper


Channel-levee deposits that occur in some large sand-dominated fluvial systems are commonly elevated above the surrounding floodplain. However, the over-elevation processes of small and isolated fluvial channels are poorly documented. The Maresme zone located NE of Barcelona (Spain) offers many examples of small over-elevated channels. This area is characterised by weathered granodiorites forming a thick coarse-grained sand-dominated regolith, which was initially covered by dense forests. In the XVIII and XIX centuries human activity led to the destruction of the vegetal cover, resulting in subsequent erosion and in the intense remobilisation of sediments during storms. Thus, large amounts of sand were transported during historical times. The intermittent discharges were confined to short (few km) and straight channels with high and uncommon gradients from 3.2 to 3.4%. These discharges flowed at high velocities towards the Mediterranean Sea, the regional base-level. High infiltration rates contributed to the accretion of sandy sediments along the channels coevally with levee development. This sandy lithosome, which is usually elevated above the surrounding floodplain, displays a characteristic convex-up cross section.


Channel-levee Infiltration Biorhexistasy Maresme Ramblas Rieras Barcelona 



The suggestions and comments of J. Paredes, L.A. Spalletti, S. Rice, R.A. Marston, J. López, P. Busquets, M. López-Blanco, A. Luzón, J. Martin, W. Van De Lageweg and an anonymous referee have considerably improved the original version of the manuscript. M. Comerma (Museu de Mataró) and G. Bravo (Arxiu Municipal d’Argentona) provided valuable local information. This work was partially funded by the Secció de Ciències i Tecnologia, Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) i Reial Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona (RACAB) and the Grup de Qualitat de la Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya, 2014-SGR-467.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. Dinàmica de la Terra i de l’Oceà, Facultat de Ciències de la TerraUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Dept. Mineralogia, Petrologia i Geologia Aplicada, Facultat de Ciències de la TerraUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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