Sea-level responses to erosion and deposition of sediment in the Indus River basin and the Arabian Sea
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Changes in sea level are of wide interest because they shape the sedimentary geologic record, modulate flood-related hazards, and reflect Earth's climate. One driver of sea-level change is the erosion and deposition of sediment, which induces changes in sea level by perturbing Earth's crust, gravity field, and rotation axis. Here we use a gravitationally self-consistent global model to explore how sediment erosion and deposition affected sea level during the most recent glacial-interglacial cycle in the northeastern Arabian Sea and the Indus River basin, where fluvial sediment fluxes are among the highest on Earth. We drive the model with a widely used reconstruction of ice mass variations over the last glacial cycle and a sediment loading history that we constructed from published erosion and deposition rate measurements. Our modeling suggests that sediment fluxes from the Indus River are large enough to produce meter-scale changes in sea level near the Indus delta in as little as a few thousand years. These sea-level perturbations are largest closest to the center of the Indus delta, and they grow larger over time as sediment deposition increases. This implies that the elevation of sea-level markers near the Indus delta will be significantly altered by sediment transfer over millennial timescales, and that such deformation should be accounted for in studies that use paleo-sea-level markers to infer past ice sheet volume or explore local processes such as sediment compaction. Our analysis highlights the role that massive fluvial sediment fluxes play in driving sea-level changes over >1000-yr timescales from the Indus River, and, by implication, from other rivers with large sediment fluxes.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Ferrier, K., Mitrovica, J., Giosan, L., & Clift, P. (2015). Sea-level responses to erosion and deposition of sediment in the Indus River basin and the Arabian Sea. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 416, 12-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01.026