Late Quaternary landscape evolution in the Kula basin, Turkey, unraveling the role of local base level change.

To understand long term landscape evolution, quantification of landscape response to controlling factors is important.

Landscape evolution modeling is considered a promising tool for this purpose, as it has the potential to unravel complex response of a landscape to multiple controls at different spatial and temporal scales, as well as quantifying complex landscape patterns resulting from multiple, interacting processes. A general problem in landscape evolution modeling is the lack of good datasets. In The Kula basin, Turkey (figure 1), sedimentary records and palaeolandscape features are preserved within an erosional landscape. It therefore has the potential to be a rich data source to reconstruct and model Quaternary landscape evolution. Research has been carried out on Early Pleistocene landscape evolution of the Gediz, the main river in the area (Maddy et al., 2007). But research to Late Pleistocene-Holocene landscape evolution has been limited.

Figure 1: location of the study area in Turkey (left) in the upstream part of the Gediz river and its tributaries under study (right).

Problem definition and objective

A case study shall be executed in the research area. Two adjacent catchments show a different landscape expression. One catchment is in quasi-equilibrium state and the other is decoupled and in disequilibrium. However, they have been formed due to similar extrinsic controls (same climate, substrate, tectonic regime, human impact and discharge into the same main river). Another control on Quaternary landscape evolution in the area is volcanism. Lavaflows have blocked and are subsequently breached by the river system. These volcanic damming events which control local base level are hypothesized to have played an important role in differences in catchment development. To test this hypothesis, the following objective shall be reached:
- To reconstruct and model the response of two different catchments to external controls which are or have been active during the last 100 ka BP, with a special focus on catchment response to the presumed blocking by lava flows.


The objective will be reached by conducting a novel iterative model and fieldwork approach (Temme, 2008). First, fieldwork will generate a reconstruction of landscape evolution and yield data which will be used as a model input. Rocks and sediments will be dated using Ar/Ar and OSL dating techniques respectively. The dating of these samples will take place in the Netherlands. Second, model results will challenge this theory. Third, renewed fieldwork will test model results resulting in a new theory and new data. Finally, improved modeling will yield new and better results. The LAPSUS modeling framework will be used to quantify the complex local base level control-landscape interactions (Schoorl et al., 2000). It is expected that this research leads to considerable insight in landscape process interactions in general and the Late Quaternary development of the catchments studied in particular. Also, the role of the iterative fieldwork-modeling approach will be assessed on its usefulness for geomorphology and landscape evolution studies.


please contact the supervisor if you need any information about this project (see contact details above). 


Veldkamp, A., Candy, I., Jongmans, A.G., Maddy, D., Demir, T., Schoorl, J.M., Schreve, D., Stemerdink, C., van der Schriek, T., 2015. Reconstructing Early Pleistocene (1.3 Ma) terrestrial environmental change in western Anatolia: Did it drive fluvial terrace formation? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 417, pp.91-104. DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.10.022.

W van Gorp, A.J.A.M. Temme, J.E.M. Baartman, J.M. Schoorl, 2014. Landscape Evolution Modelling of naturally dammed rivers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 39, pp. 1587-1600. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3547

van Gorp, W., Veldkamp, A., Temme, A.J.A.M., Maddy, D., Demir, T., van der Schriek, T., Reimann, T., Wallinga, J., Wijbrans, J., Schoorl, J.M., 2013. Fluvial response to Holocene volcanic damming and breaching in the Gediz and Geren rivers, western Turkey. Geomorphology 201, pp. 430-448. DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.07.016

D. Maddy, A Veldkamp, A.G. Jongmans, I. Candy, T. Demir, J.M. Schoorl, T. van der Schriek, C. Stemerdink, R.G.Scaife and W. van Gorp, 2012. Volcanic disruption and drainage diversion of the palaeo-Hudut River, a tributary of the Early Pleistocene Gediz River, Western Turkey. Geomorphology 165-166 , pp. 62-77.

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, A., Stemerdink, C., van der Schriek, T., and Schreve, D., 2007, The Pliocene initiation and Early Pleistocene volcanic disruption of the palaeo-Gediz fluvial system, Western Turkey: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 26, p. 2864-2882.

Schoorl, J.M., Sonneveld, M.P.W., and Veldkamp, A., 2000, Three-dimensional landscape process modelling: The effect of DEM resolution: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 25, p. 1025-1034.

Temme, A.J.A.M., 2008, Understanding Landscape Dynamics over thousands of years: combining field and model work, PhD-thesis: Wageningen, Wageningen University and Research.