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Drainage and erosion of Cambodia’s great lake in the middle-late Holocene: The combined role of climatic drying, base-level fall and river capture

Drainage and erosion of Cambodia’s great lake in the middle-late Holocene: The combined role of climatic drying, base-level fall and river capture
Drainage and erosion of Cambodia’s great lake in the middle-late Holocene: The combined role of climatic drying, base-level fall and river capture
We provide evidence for a large-scale geomorphic event in Cambodia’s great lake, the Tonlé Sap, during the middle Holocene. The present-day hydrology of the basin is dominated by an annual flood pulse where water from the Mekong River raises the lake level by c. 8 m during the monsoon season. We present new subsurface geophysical data, allied to new and past core studies, which unequivocally show a period of major mid-Holocene erosion across the entire Tonlé Sap basin that is coincident with establishment of the lake’s flood pulse. We argue that this widespread erosion, which removed at least 1.2 m of sediment across the lake’s extent, was triggered by up to three, likely interacting, processes: (1) base-level lowering due to mid-Holocene sea-level fall, leading to (2) capture of the Tonlé Sap drainage by the Mekong River, and (3) a drying climate that also reduced lake level. Longer-term landscape evolution was thus punctuated by a rapid, river capture- and base-level fall- induced, lake drainage that established the ecosystem that flourishes today. The scale of change induced by this mid-Holocene river capture event demonstrates the susceptibility of the Tonlé Sap lake to ongoing changes in local base-level and hydrology induced by anthropogenic activity, such as damming and sand mining, within the Mekong River Basin.
Holocene, Paleogeography, Paleolimnology, Southeastern Asia, Tonlé sap
0277-3791
Darby, Stephen E.
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Langdon, Peter G.
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Best, James L.
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Leyland, Julian
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Hackney, Christopher R.
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Marti, Mackenzie
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Morgan, Peter R.
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Ben, Savuth
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Aalto, Rolf
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Parsons, Daniel R.
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Nicholas, Andrew P.
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Leng, Melanie J.
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Darby, Stephen E.
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Langdon, Peter G.
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Best, James L.
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Leyland, Julian
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Hackney, Christopher R.
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Marti, Mackenzie
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Morgan, Peter R.
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Ben, Savuth
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Aalto, Rolf
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Parsons, Daniel R.
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Nicholas, Andrew P.
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Leng, Melanie J.
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Darby, Stephen E., Langdon, Peter G., Best, James L., Leyland, Julian, Hackney, Christopher R., Marti, Mackenzie, Morgan, Peter R., Ben, Savuth, Aalto, Rolf, Parsons, Daniel R., Nicholas, Andrew P. and Leng, Melanie J. (2020) Drainage and erosion of Cambodia’s great lake in the middle-late Holocene: The combined role of climatic drying, base-level fall and river capture. Quaternary Science Reviews, 236, [106265]. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106265).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We provide evidence for a large-scale geomorphic event in Cambodia’s great lake, the Tonlé Sap, during the middle Holocene. The present-day hydrology of the basin is dominated by an annual flood pulse where water from the Mekong River raises the lake level by c. 8 m during the monsoon season. We present new subsurface geophysical data, allied to new and past core studies, which unequivocally show a period of major mid-Holocene erosion across the entire Tonlé Sap basin that is coincident with establishment of the lake’s flood pulse. We argue that this widespread erosion, which removed at least 1.2 m of sediment across the lake’s extent, was triggered by up to three, likely interacting, processes: (1) base-level lowering due to mid-Holocene sea-level fall, leading to (2) capture of the Tonlé Sap drainage by the Mekong River, and (3) a drying climate that also reduced lake level. Longer-term landscape evolution was thus punctuated by a rapid, river capture- and base-level fall- induced, lake drainage that established the ecosystem that flourishes today. The scale of change induced by this mid-Holocene river capture event demonstrates the susceptibility of the Tonlé Sap lake to ongoing changes in local base-level and hydrology induced by anthropogenic activity, such as damming and sand mining, within the Mekong River Basin.

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Darby_et_al_Tonle_Sap_ACCEPTED - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 7 March 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 April 2020
Published date: 1 May 2020
Keywords: Holocene, Paleogeography, Paleolimnology, Southeastern Asia, Tonlé sap

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 439754
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/439754
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: 46b051a0-f6fe-4d08-8b93-af69c69da6aa
ORCID for Stephen E. Darby: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8778-4394
ORCID for Peter G. Langdon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2724-2643
ORCID for Julian Leyland: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3419-9949

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 May 2020 16:36
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 06:15

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Contributors

Author: James L. Best
Author: Julian Leyland ORCID iD
Author: Mackenzie Marti
Author: Peter R. Morgan
Author: Savuth Ben
Author: Rolf Aalto
Author: Daniel R. Parsons
Author: Andrew P. Nicholas
Author: Melanie J. Leng

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