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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 17, issue 8 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 3339-3354, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-17-3339-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2013

Research article | 29 Aug 2013

Sediment yield model implementation based on check dam infill stratigraphy in a semiarid Mediterranean catchment

G. Bussi1,*, X. Rodríguez-Lloveras2, F. Francés1, G. Benito2, Y. Sánchez-Moya3, and A. Sopeña3 G. Bussi et al.
  • 1Research Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA), Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain
  • 2Geology Department, National Museum of Natural Sciences – CSIC, Madrid, Spain
  • 3Geoscience Institute, CSIC, UCM, Madrid, Spain
  • *Invited contribution by G. Bussi, recipient of the EGU Young Scientists Outstanding Poster Paper Award 2012.

Abstract. Soil loss and sediment transport in Mediterranean areas are driven by complex non-linear processes which have been only partially understood. Distributed models can be very helpful tools for understanding the catchment-scale phenomena which lead to soil erosion and sediment transport. In this study, a modelling approach is proposed to reproduce and evaluate erosion and sediment yield processes in a Mediterranean catchment (Rambla del Poyo, Valencia, Spain). Due to the lack of sediment transport records for model calibration and validation, a detailed description of the alluvial stratigraphy infilling a check dam that drains a 12.9 km2 sub-catchment was used as indirect information of sediment yield data. These dam infill sediments showed evidences of at least 15 depositional events (floods) over the time period 1990–2009. The TETIS model, a distributed conceptual hydrological and sediment model, was coupled to the Sediment Trap Efficiency for Small Ponds (STEP) model for reproducing reservoir retention, and it was calibrated and validated using the sedimentation volume estimated for the depositional units associated with discrete runoff events. The results show relatively low net erosion rates compared to other Mediterranean catchments (0.136 Mg ha−1 yr−1), probably due to the extensive outcrops of limestone bedrock, thin soils and rather homogeneous vegetation cover. The simulated sediment production and transport rates offer model satisfactory results, further supported by in-site palaeohydrological evidences and spatial validation using additional check dams, showing the great potential of the presented data assimilation methodology for the quantitative analysis of sediment dynamics in ungauged Mediterranean basins.

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