The Holocene transgression as recorded by incised-valley infilling in a rocky coast context with low sediment supply (southern Brittany, western France)

Abstract : A combination of morphobathymetric studies, very high-resolution seismics, core sampling and radiocarbon age data is used to investigate the latest stage of the sedimentary infilling of incised valleys in southern Brittany, related to the Holocene transgression. Owing to the bedrock morphology of this highly irregular rocky coast, two main types of valleys are defined by topographic rocky highs parallel to the coastline: 1) wide and rather shallow incised valleys offshore from a topographic sill, 2) narrow and relatively deep valleys between the sill and the coast (ria-type valley). The sedimentary infilling in both types of valleys becomes highly differentiated as the transgression advances onto the coastal area. In the wide valley seaward of the topographic sill, the infilling consists mainly of offshore heterolithic facies while, in the ria-type valley, most of the infill is composed of brackish mudflat deposits and estuarine tidal muddy sands. As the transgression proceeds, the rocky highs are flooded and the whole area is finally covered by the offshore facies. Radiocarbon dating indicates that: 1) the marine ravinement surface is highly diachronous (a few thousand years cross-shore); 2) the top of the offshore facies, coarser and very shelly, represents an episode of condensed sedimentation from about 3000 to 4000 years ago, amalgamating the maximum flooding surface (MFS) and the highstand systems tract (HST). However, we observe a muddy drape, strongly bioturbated in places, in the most proximal areas, overlying the offshore facies. It is thought to represent the modern and most recent stage of sedimentary infilling. This mud cover is made of fine-grained sediments of fluvial and biological origin, and is interpreted as a prograding HST. It reflects an increased influx, partly due to human activities. Finally, the main features of incised valley sedimentary infilling in a rocky coast context with low sediment supply can be characterized by (i) the very strong control of bedrock morphology, (ii) the diachronous character of the transgression, (iii) the late position of the MFS, and (iv), the highly reduced volume of the HST.
Document type :
Journal articles
Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, 2010, 181 (2), pp.115-128. <10.2113/gssgfbull.181.2.115>


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Submitted on : Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 2:14:17 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 1:14:54 AM

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D. Menier, B. Tessier, J.N. Proust, A. Baltzer, P. Sorrel, et al.. The Holocene transgression as recorded by incised-valley infilling in a rocky coast context with low sediment supply (southern Brittany, western France). Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, 2010, 181 (2), pp.115-128. <10.2113/gssgfbull.181.2.115>. <hal-00491025>

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