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Shifting Sediment Sources in the World's Longest RIver: An 8,000-year Record From Northern Sudan

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Matouš Ptáček.

The Holocene archaeological and fluvial records in the Nile Valley of northern Sudan are exceptionally well-preserved. Long-standing collaborations between geomorphologists and archaeologists have led to important new insights into the behaviour of the world’s longest river – as well as the development of an extended record of human-river environment interaction. This talk will focus on aspects of the geology and archaeology in two alluvial reaches between the Fourth and Second Cataracts where a robust dating framework has been compiled for the fluvial records of northern Sudan using Optically Stimulated Luminescence. The sedimentary fills in abandoned channels of the Desert Nile present a very distinctive sedimentology and wonderful palaeoflood records. The sediment load of the Desert Nile has been dominated by material from the Ethiopian Highlands (via the Blue Nile/Atbara Rivers) for much of the Holocene, but we show how and when tributary wadis and aeolian activity were major contributors to valley floor sedimentation. Sr and Nd isotopes have been used to quantify these changing contributions over the last 8000 years. Shifts in sediment sources are linked to large-scale changes in Nile basin hydrology and global climate. Finally, we can now provide important reach-specific geological context for bioarchaeologists who carry out Sr isotope-based investigations of ancient human populations in the Nile Valley.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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