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Morphology and recent history of the Rhone River Delta in Lake Geneva (Switzerland)

Greinert, Jens
Naudts, Lieven
Anselmetti, Flavio S.
Published in Swiss Journal of Geosciences. 2010, vol. 103, no. 1, p. 33-42
Abstract The current topographic maps of the Rhone Delta—and of Lake Geneva in general—are mainly based on hydrographic data that were acquired during the time of F.-A. Forel at the end of the nineteenth century. In this paper we present results of a new bathymetric survey, based on single- and multi-beam echosounder data. The new data, presented as a digital terrain model, show a wellstructured lake bottom morphology, reflecting depositional and erosional processes that shape the lake floor. As a major geomorphologic element, the sub-aquatic Rhone Delta extends from the coastal platform to the depositional fans of the central plain of the lake at 310 m depth. 9 canyons cut the platform edge of the delta. These are sinuous (‘‘meandering’’) channels formed by erosional and depositional processes, as indicated by the steep erosional canyon walls and the depositional levees on the canyon shoulders. Ripples or dune-like morphologies wrinkle the canyon bottoms and some slope areas. Subaquatic mass movements are apparently missing on the delta and are of minor importance on the lateral lake slopes. Morphologies of the underlying bedrock and small local river deltas are located along the lateral slopes of Lake Geneva. Based on historical maps, the recent history of the Rhone River connection to the sub-aquatic delta and the canyons is reconstructed. The transition from three to two river branches dates to 1830–1840, when the river branch to the Le Bouveret lake bay was cut. The transition from two to one river branch corresponds to the achievement of the correction and dam construction work on the modern Rhone River channel between 1870 and 1880.
Keywords BathymetryMulti-beamDelta topographyLake GenevaRhone River DeltaSub-aquatic canyons
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SASTRE, Vincent et al. Morphology and recent history of the Rhone River Delta in Lake Geneva (Switzerland). In: Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 2010, vol. 103, n° 1, p. 33-42. doi: 10.1007/s00015-010-0006-4 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:16901

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Deposited on : 2011-09-13

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