Fluvio-Deltaic Floodbasin Deposits Recording Differential Subsidence within a Coastal Prism (Central Rhine–Meuse Delta, The Netherlands)

  1. Michael D. Blum2,
  2. Susan B. Marriott3 and
  3. Suzanne F. Leclair4
  1. K. M. Cohen,
  2. M. J. P. Gouw and
  3. J. P. Holten

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch17

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

How to Cite

Cohen, K. M., Gouw, M. J. P. and Holten, J. P. (2005) Fluvio-Deltaic Floodbasin Deposits Recording Differential Subsidence within a Coastal Prism (Central Rhine–Meuse Delta, The Netherlands), in Fluvial Sedimentology VII (eds M. D. Blum, S. B. Marriott and S. F. Leclair), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch17

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

  2. 3

    School of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK

  3. 4

    Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, Dimwiddie Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA

Author Information

  1. Centre for Geo-ecological Research (ICG), Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 15 FEB 2005

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 35 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405126519

Online ISBN: 9781444304350



  • differential subsidence in fluvio-deltaic floodbasin deposits;
  • Peel Boundary Fault-zone (PBF) in central delta;
  • sedimentary architecture of coastal prism;
  • late-glacial (OIS 2, Late Weichselian) subsurface;
  • radiocarbon dating groundwater-level index points;
  • ‘Treeft’ buried dune site;
  • reconstructed groundwater-level rise;
  • quantified differential subsidence;
  • deglaciation-related tectonic activity


In the central Netherlands, the Rhine follows a course imposed by Late Quaternary glaciation, forcing it to cross several tectonic blocks of the Roer Valley Graben system before entering the south-eastern North Sea Basin. Holocene sea-level rise resulted in the formation of a coastal prism (Holocene Rhine–Meuse delta). Across the Peel Boundary Fault-zone (PBF) in the central delta, differences in subsidence between the downstream Roer Valley Graben and its upstream shoulder influenced fluvial deposition. This study examines the sedimentary response upstream and downstream of the PBF and uses that to quantify differential subsidence rates. The local identification and quantification of the subsidence component within deltaic relative base-level rise may serve to determine to what extent coastal prism aggradation and resulting architecture are controlled by downstream sea-level rise, local tectonics and discharge coming from upstream.

A floodbasin-section shows both syn-depositional and post-depositional tectonic effects in the Late-glacial to Holocene (marine oxygen isotope stages 2 and 1) sedimentary record, and reveals an active fault of the Peel Boundary Fault-zone. Differential subsidence across the PBF is quantified for the Last Glacial Maximum subsurface (averaged rate c. 0.06 m kyr−1 over the past 15 kyr). The offset in Holocene basal peat yields a similar value (0.03–0.07 m kyr−1, averaged over the past 7 kyr). Groundwater-level rise in the study area (as reconstructed from series of radiocarbon-dated basal peats) is used to quantify subsidence by comparison with relative sea-level rise at the river mouth. High rates of subsidence between 7000 and 5500 cal. yr BP together with syn-depositional sedimentary evidence suggest that the last major activity (palaeo-earthquakes) along this fault occurred in the middle Holocene. The timing of this and earlier fault activity may be related to the deglaciation and sea-level rise history. The results imply that early–middle Holocene deltaic back-filling should not be attributed solely to downstream relative sea-level rise dominating upstream controls, but that local differential subsidence is another independent control. Similar effects of differential subsidence in coastal prism sedimentary architecture can be expected in other coastal prisms.