Levee morphology and sedimentology along the lower Tuross River, south-eastern Australia

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Abstract

Levees on the lower Tuross River in south-eastern Australia reflect a complex interplay between depositional and erosional processes. Stream power, conditioned primarily by valley width, is the key determinant of levee morphology and sedimentology in this confined valley setting. Three styles of levee are described. The Rewlee levee is functionally linked to a flood channel in narrow valley settings (< 250 m). These levees contain a diverse facies assemblage characterized by various scales of erosion surfaces. Vertical accretion on levees has produced conditions under which stream power values exceed the threshold for catastrophic floodplain stripping. The levee at the Mortfield site is associated with less confined settings (valley width 500–600 m), which present lower flood stage and stream power conditions. This levee hosts a wide range of facies, but erosion surfaces are seldom observed. In the more open valley setting at the Central site (valley width 700–1000 m), levees comprise uniform, fine-grained deposits, which grade to pronounced distal floodplains with backswamps. As levees reflect a combination of within-channel and overbank processes, both depositional and erosional, these geomorphic features influence the character and sedimentology of adjacent landforms and the associated alluvial architecture of the basin.

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