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Geomorphic and Sedimentological Impact of the 2017 Flash Flood Event in the City of Comodoro Rivadavia (Central Patagonia, Argentina)

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Advances in Geomorphology and Quaternary Studies in Argentina

Abstract

From March 29 to April 08, 2017, the city of Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut province, central Patagonia) had experienced the worst floods due to rainfalls that reached up to 399.4 mm. This study investigates the response of channel reaches in a semiarid environment, analyzing the range of erosional and depositional processes observed in ungauged catchments. Seven ephemeral rivers cover approximately 1546 km2 and are characterized by high slopes, that favored high runoff velocity and gully development during the storm. Heavy rains generated intense rain splash erosion and overland flow, providing high-concentration of suspended particles to the streams, with the additional incorporation of pebble-sized clastic components associated with natural and anthropogenic sources. Due to unusual discharges, aggradation and widening of the channels occurred in the higher-order streams, flooding large urban areas. Medium to fine sand-sized, transient deltas up to 500 m of radius were built in the coastal zone during the storm. The extreme rainfall event revealed a lack of planning at the catchment scale. It is reflected in a substantial reduction of the plant cover, anthropogenically-induced changes in channel shape and route of sediments, urban development in low and flat zones with flooding risk, and under-sized human-made waterways within the city.

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Acknowledgements

This research was partially funded by PI CIUNPAT 1433 of the University of the Patagonia San Juan Bosco. Logistic support was provided by the Departamento de Geología (FCNyCS). The authors wish to thanks TERMAP S.A. for providing data of its weather station in Caleta Córdova. Historical data from the weather station in the local airport of the city of Comodoro Rivadavia was kindly provided by the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. Historical aerial photos were generously provided by SEGEMAR (Servicio Geológico Minero Argentino, the National Geological and Mining Survey of Argentina). We thanks reviewers Jorge Rabassa and Pablo Pouza for detailed and thoughtful comments on an early version of the manuscript.

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Paredes, J.M. et al. (2021). Geomorphic and Sedimentological Impact of the 2017 Flash Flood Event in the City of Comodoro Rivadavia (Central Patagonia, Argentina). In: Bouza, P., Rabassa, J., Bilmes, A. (eds) Advances in Geomorphology and Quaternary Studies in Argentina. Springer Earth System Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-66161-8_1

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