Belqua Annual Meeting location:Brussels date:19 March 2008
A Holocene sediment budget was constructed for the 758 km² Dijle catchment in the Belgian loess belt, in order to understand long term sediment dynamics. Hillslope sediment redistribution was calculated using soil profile information from 809 soil augerings, which was extrapolated to the entire catchment using morphometric classes. As large parts of the forests within the catchment prove to have undergone little or no erosion since medieval times, a correction was applied for the presence of forests. Total Holocene erosion amounts 817 ± 66 Mt for the catchment, of which 327 ± 34 Mt was deposited as colluvium. This corresponds with a net Holocene soil erosion rate of 10.8 ± 0.8 x 10³ Mg ha-1 for the entire Dijle catchment. Alluvial deposits were studied through 187 augerings spread over 17 cross-valley transects. The total alluvial sediment deposition equals 352 ± 11 Mt or 42 % of total eroded sediment mass. Results indicate that at the scale of a medium sized catchment the colluvial sediment sink is as important as the alluvial sediment sink and should not be neglected. As a result the estimation of erosion through alluvial storage and sediment export would yield large errors. Dating of sediment units show an important increase in alluvial deposition from medieval times onwards, indicating the important influence of agricultural activities that developed from that period. Mean sediment export rates from the catchment for the last 1000-1200 y range between 0.8 and 1.3 Mg ha-1 a-1 and are consistent with present suspended sediment measurements in the Dijle. Erosion for agricultural land for this period is 9.2 ± 2.2 Mg ha-1 a-1. Sediment budgets for the various tributary catchments provide an insight in the sources and sinks of sediment at different scales within the catchment.