Interpreting flash flood palaeoflow parameters from antidunes and gravel lenses: An example from Montserrat, West Indies

Melanie J. Froude, Jan Alexander, Jenni Barclay, Paul Cole

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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The wavelength of stationary water–surface waves and their associated antidune bedforms are related to the mean velocity and depth of formative flow. In sand-bed flume experiments, Alexander et al. (2001) found that lens structures were preserved during antidune growth and change, and the dimension of the lenses were empirically related to antidune wavelength, and thus could be used to estimate flow velocity and depth. This study is the first to compare observations of formative flow conditions and resulting sedimentary structures in a natural setting, testing the Alexander et al. (2001) relationship at a field-scale. Trains of stationary and upstream migrating water–surface waves were prevalent during the flash flood in October 2012 in the Belham Valley, Montserrat, West Indies. Wave positions and wavelengths were assessed at 900 s intervals through the daylight hours of the event within a monitored reach. The wave data indicate flow depths up to 1.3 m and velocity up to 3.6 m s−1. Sedimentary structures formed by antidune growth and change were preserved in the event deposit. These structures include lenses of clast-supported gravel and massive sand, with varying internal architecture. The lenses and associated low angle strata are comparable to sand-bed structures formed from stationary and upstream migrating waves in flume experiments, confirming the diagnostic value of these structures. Using mean lens length in the event deposit underestimated peak flow conditions during the flood, and implied that the lenses were preserved during waning flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817–1845
Number of pages29
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Antidunes
  • flash flood
  • gravel lenses
  • lahar
  • palaeoflow

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