Identification of facies models in alluvial soil formation: The case of a Swiss alpine floodplain
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This paper describes different conceptual facies models intervening in alluvial soil formation in the case of the Sarine River floodplain, a partially embanked floodplain situated in the northwest of the Swiss Alps. Alluvial soils are submitted to processes of deposition and erosion and exhibit various characteristics reflecting the composition and properties of the material transported. Moreover, these processes of sedimentation and erosion vary in space and time and contribute thus to the heterogeneity of the whole floodplain system. Detailed analyses of the different soil layers permit a precise description of the variability and complexity of soil formation. In addition, the vertical succession of the horizons is useful to reconstruct the different natural or artificial events that occurred in this alluvial valley since the nineteenth century. On a larger scale, this study aims to contribute to floodplain management by identifying zones for restoration. The investigation was undertaken using data from 109 auger borings carried out in the Sarine River valley. Several morphological attributes of the different horizons and of the different profiles were first reduced in number and then grouped by a hierarchical agglomerative clustering. Profile factors were analysed by means of correlation analyses as well as other data summaries. The results showed positive correlations between several factors, particularly between the total profile thickness and the number of horizons found in the profile. Four facies models of alluvial soil formation are then proposed to illustrate and explain the variability of alluvial soil formation in the Sarine floodplain. Finally, these facies models are placed into the context of the Sarine floodplain scale case, according to the levels of organization of the alluvial system. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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