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《Acta Sedimentologica Sinica》 2003-01
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Yangtze and Nile Delta: A Comparative Study on the Late Quaternary Sediment

CHEN Zhong-Yuan WANG Zhang-hua (East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062)  
The Yangtze delta of eastern China and the Nile delta of Egypt that occur at the same latitude belong to fluvio-tide dominated and wave-dominated sedimentary patterns, in light of their physio-geographical variables, including local geology, climate, tides, waves, and longshore currents. To make a comparison between the two deltas regarding late Quaternary sediment sequences and sedimentary facies is of great significance in better understanding of the delta formation, in association with sea-level fluctuations, climate changes, sediment transport and river valley morphology. This will be also of great help to comprehend the delta origin of global scale. Our numerous sediment boreholes were collected from the two delta plains. Petrological, microfossil and radiometric analyses reveal that the stiff muds occur widely as basal sediment section below the Holocene delta sediments and are distributed as patches along the paleo-river channels. Many siderite and calcareous nodules found in the Yangtze can indicate the cool and damp climate setting during the Late Pleistocene. In contrast, numerous calcareous and gypsum nodules appeared in the Nile is of dry and hot climate implications. Many 14C dates obtained from the stiff muds section range from 25 000 to 10 000 y B.P. The overlying Holocene transgressive sediment section occurs at the both delta region as Holocene sea level invaded into inland. The Nile delta transgressive section consist primarily of coarser sands, while the Yangtze is basically composed the silt sand. 14C dates derived from the sediment sections range primarily from 11 000 to 7500 y B.P. It is further proved by our study that the Holocene delta sedimentary faces, i.e. prodelta clay, delta-front sand and delta plain muds are commonly developed as the main sediment body at the both delta areas. The sediment thickness of the both delta sediment sections can reach 40 m. The dominant sediment facies in the Yangtze delta is represented by the tidal flat and marsh environments, largely characterized by the fine grained mud deposits with sets of convoluted, horizontal and ripple beddings. Reed root traces prevail throughout. In comparison, the Nile deposits are essentially marked by the barrier-lagoon system, primarily the pooly-sorted clayey sand with abundant brackish water organism. Gypsum occurs widely as evaporates. 14C dates indicate their chronological formation ranging from 7 500 to 7 000 y B.P. Sediment particles formed the various Holocene delta facies in both deltas are greatly different. The sandy sediment is dominant in the Nile and muddy in the Yangtze. This illustrates the stronger winnowing processes and longshore sediment transport in the Nile sandy coast, and the siltation prevails in the Yangtze muddy flat. The Holocene sea-level fluctuations in the both delta region are reconstructed by many 14C dates obtained from the freshwater marshes and lagoonal sections. This is believed that the sea level curve of the Nile on the basis of lagoonal dates is more reliable to reflect the eustatic change, due to lesser sediment compaction than that of the peaty materials. Obviously, the Holocene sea levels were not fluctuated coincidently at both sites with time. Sea level during 7 000 y B.P. was positioned -4 m below the present in the Yangtze coast, and -10 m in the Nile, and was -3 m and -8.5 m in the Yangtze and Nile at about 5 000 y B.P., respectively. The local subsidence due to isostacy and/or sediment compaction can interpret the discrepancy, aside from many other factors, such as un-coevally fluctuated climate-warming trend during Holocene, etc. This is also demonstrated that the Holocene delta construction initiated from 7 500~7 000 y B.P., not only supported by the dates derived from the basal strata of the prodelta clay facies, but also from the chronology of marsh and lagoon facies, formed widely on the leeside of chenier ridges of the Yangtze, and on the sand ridge of the Nile.
【Fund】: 国家自然科学基金 (批准号 :499710 11)资助项目;; 尼罗河三角洲项目由美国 Smithsonian研究所基金会资助
【CateGory Index】: P512.2
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