Flood consequences of land-use changes at a ski resort: overcoming a geomorphological threshold (Portainé, Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula)
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The sensitive mountain catchment of Portainé (Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula) has recently experienced a significant change in its torrential dynamics due to human disturbances. The emplacement of a ski resort at the headwaters led to the surpassing of a geomorphological threshold, with important consequences during flood events. Consequently, since 2008, channel dynamics have turned into sediment-laden, highly destructive torrential flows. In order to assess this phenomenon and to acquire a holistic understanding of the catchment’s behaviour, we carried out a field work-based multidisciplinary study. We considered the interaction of the various controlling factors, including bedrock geology, geomorphological evolution, derived soils and coluvial deposits, rainfall patterns, and the hydrological response of the catchment to flood events. Moreover, anthropogenic land-use changes, its consequential hydrogeomorphic effects and the role of vegetation were also taken into account. Robust sedimentological and geomorphological evidence of ancient dense debris flows show that the basin has shifted around this threshold, giving rise to two different behaviours or equilibrium conditions throughout its history: alternating periods of moderate, bedload-laden flows and periods of high sediment-laden debris flow dynamics. This shifting could have extended through the Holocene. Finally, we discuss the possible impact of climate and global change, as the projected effects suggest future soil and forest degradation; this, jointly with more intense rainfalls in these mountain environments, would exacerbate the future occurrence of dense sediment-laden flows at Portainé, but also in other nearby, similar basins.
CitationFurdada Bellavista, G. [et al.]. Flood consequences of land-use changes at a ski resort: overcoming a geomorphological threshold (Portainé, Eastern Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula). "Water", Febrer 2020, vol. 12, núm. 2, p. 368:1-368:27.