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Muddy lateral accretion and low stream power in a sub-recent confined channel belt, Rhine-Meuse delta, central Netherlands



    1. The Netherlands Centre for Geo-Ecological Research (ICG), Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands (E-mail:
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      Present address: Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.


    1. Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience (NITG) TNO – National Geological Survey, Princetonlaan 6, P.O. Box 80015, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
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The Hennisdijk fluvial system in the central Rhine-Meuse delta is an abandoned Rhine distributary that was active on a wide floodplain from 3800 to 3000 years BP. Cross-sectional geometry, lithological characteristics and planform patterns of the channel-belt deposits indicate lateral migration of the Hennisdijk palaeochannel. Channel-belt deposits are around 10 m thick and 200–400 m wide. A gravelly facies near the base of the channel-belt deposits represents channel-lag and lower point-bar deposits. The axis of the channel belt is dominated by a sandy facies (medium and coarse sand), showing an overall fining upward trend with multiple cycles. This facies is interpreted as lower and middle point-bar deposits. The sandy facies is capped by a muddy facies, which is 1–2 m thick near the axis of the channel belt and thickens to 5–6 m along the margins. It laterally interfingers with the sandy facies that occurs near the channel-belt axis, but it has sharp, erosive outer contacts marking the edges of the channel belt. The muddy facies comprises inclined heterolithic stratification (IHS) (fine/medium sand–mud couplets) in its upper part. The relatively thin muddy facies with IHS that occurs near the channel-belt axis is interpreted as upper point-bar deposits with lateral accretion surfaces, formed under marine influence. Along the margins of the channel belt the muddy facies consists of thick, fairly homogeneous, successions of mud with variable sand content, and fine sand. Based on facies geometry and position, this part of the muddy facies is interpreted as counterpoint deposits, formed along the upstream limb of the concave bank of a channel bend. Counterpoint accretion seems to have been associated with the confined nature of the channel belt, which was the result of low stream power (4·5–7·8 W m−2, based on reconstructions of palaeodischarge and channel slope) and cohesive bank material, i.e. clayey floodbasin deposits with intercalated peat beds occurring next to the channel belt. In the literature, counterpoint accretion is mostly reported from alluvial valleys, where meandering is confined by limited floodplain width, whereas muddy lateral accretion surfaces are commonly reported from much wider marine-influenced floodplains. The present study shows juxtaposition of both forms of muddy channel deposits in a low-energy, wide coastal plain setting, where preservation potential is considerable.