Fluvial chronometers


Research topics in “Fluvial chronometers” globally aim to reconstruct the Quaternary evolution of selected fluvial systems and to better understand the complex interactions between tectonics and climate (and man-induced impact on shorter timescales) that drive their evolution through time. At the crossroads of fluvial geomorphology and Quaternary geochronology, we focus on:

  • river systems of various sizes and located in different geomorphological settings (e.g. Rhine vs alpine catchments);
  • complementary fluvial archives, mostly fluvial terraces but also cave-deposited alluvium (see interactions with “Caves, Karst and Human Origin”).

Thanks to long-lasting collaborations with dedicated laboratories (e.g. CEREGE/ASTER) and scientific experts, the most usual dating methods are threefold: in situ cosmogenic nuclides, luminescence (OSL/IRSL) and electron spin resonance (ESR). Fluvial chronometers primarily involve physical geographers within the LIVE (UMR 7362).

Selected research aims

  • (1) Multi-method approaches to date terrace sequences from large fluvial systems in northern Europe (i.e. Meuse, Rhine and Moselle);
  • (2) Morpho-sedimentary dynamics of the Vosges Mountains tackled through (i) catchment-wide denudation rates (10Be and 26Al); (ii) dating of intra-massif sedimentary infills and (iii) modern fluvial dynamics;
  • (3) Exploring the potential of luminescence, including via the portable reader, as a tracer of past and current fluvial morpho-sedimentary dynamics.

Selected research projects

  • (1) SEDIVOSGES – 2020-2024 – Morpho-sedimentary dynamics of the Vosges Mountains (NE France) (Coordination: LIVE; Funding: Région grand-Est, ENGEES, Agence Eau Rhin-Meuse, Syndicat de Rivières Haute-Alsace)
  • (2) QUARTZ – 2022-2025 – A multi-method approach for quartz characterisation in alluvial sediments for source-to-sink tracing and dosimetry(Alpes, Massif Central, Vosges) (Coordination BRGM; Funding: Projet ANR)
  • (3) BRUCHE – 2019-2022 – Development of a geochronological approach to constrain river lateral mobility (Coordination LIVE; Funding: ENGEES)
  • (4) ESRHINE – 2021-2022 – Dating of fluvial terraces along the Middle Rhine Valley via ESR  (Coordination: University Of Lausanne; Funding: IPERION HS)

Selected scientific publications  (chronological order from 2024-17)

  • Rizza M., Rixhon, G., Valla, P.G., Gairoard, S., Delanghe, D., Fleury, J., Tal, M., Groleau, S., Revisiting a proof of concept in quartz-OSL bleaching processes using sands from a modern-day river (the Séveraisse, French Alps). Accepted in Quaternary Geochronology.
  • Jautzy, T.,Rixhon, G., Braucher, R., Delunel, R., Valla, P.G., Schmitt, L., Aster Team, 2024. Cosmogenic (un-)steadiness revealed by paired-nuclide catchment-wide denudation rates in the formerly half-glaciated Vosges Mountains (NE France). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 625, 118490. doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2023.118490
  • Rixhon, G., 2023. Deeper underground: Cosmogenic burial dating of cave-deposited alluvium to reconstruct long-term fluvial landscape evolution. Earth-Science Reviews, 239, doi.org/ 10.1016/j.earscirev.2023.104357
  • Rixhon, G.,2022. A question of time: historical overview and modern thought on quaternary dating methods to produce fluvial chronologies. Quaternaire, 33, 75-98.
  • Jautzy, T., Schmitt, L., Rixhon, G., 2022. Historical geomorphological adjustments of an Upper Rhine sub-tributary over the two last centuries the Lower Bruche (Alsace, France).Géomorphologie, Relief, Processus et Environnement, 28, 53-72.
  • Cordier, S., Kalicki, T., Lauer, T., Rixhon, G., Van Balen, R., 2021. Twenty-five years of FLAG activity: concepts, foci, trends in research. Geomorphology, 373, 1-7.
  • Duval, M., Arnold, L., Rixhon, G., 2020.  Electron spin resonance (ESR) dating in Quaternary studies: evolution, recent advances and applications. Quaternary International, 556, 1-10
  • Jautzy, T., Herrault, P. A., Chardon, V., Schmitt, L., Rixhon, G., 2020. Measuring river planform changes from remotely sensed data–a Monte Carlo approach to assessing the impact of spatially variable error. Earth Surface Dynamics, 8, 471-484.
  • Rixhon, G., Braucher, R., Bourlès, D., Peeters, A., Demoulin, A., Leanni, L., ASTER Team, 2020. Plio-Quaternary landscape evolution in the uplifted Ardennes: new insights from 26Al/10Be data from cave-deposited alluvium (Meuse catchment, E Belgium). Geomorphology,371, 1-13.
  • Bartz, M., Arnold, L.J., Spooner, N., Demuro, M., Lozano, I.C., Rixhon, G., Brückner, H., Duval, M, 2019. First experimental evaluation of the alpha efficiency in coarse-grained quartz for ESR dating purposes: implications for dose rate evaluation. Scientific Reports, 9, 19769.
  • Briant, R.M., Cohen, K.M., Cordier, S. Demoulin, A., Macklin, M.G., Mather, A., Rixhon, G., Veldkamp, A., Wainwright, J., Whittaker, A., Wittmann, H., 2018. Applying pattern-oriented sampling in current fieldwork practice to enable more effective model evaluation in fluvial landscape evolution research. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 43, 2964-2980.
  • Rixhon, G., Briant, R.M., Cordier, S., Duval, M., Jones, A., Scholz, D., 2017. Revealing the pace of river landscape evolution during the Quaternary: recent developments in numerical dating methods. Quaternary Science Reviews, 166, 91-113.
  • Rixhon, G., Bartz, M., El Ouahabi, M., Szemkus, N., Brückner, H., 2017. Contrasting terrace systems of the lower Moulouya river as indicator of crustal deformation in NE Morocco. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 126, 45-57.

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