Spatial variation in specific sediment yield along the Peruvian western Andes

Miluska A. Rosas, Willem Viveen, Veerle Vanacker

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5 Citas (Scopus)


The tropical Andes has been less studied in terms of erosion processes in comparison to other major mountain ranges in the world. Environmental gradients are steepest along the western flank of the Andes that is characterized by marked differences in vegetation, rough topography with deeply incised canyons, and highly variable and extreme precipitation patterns. Previous efforts mostly focused on sediment fluxes in large rivers draining to e.g. the Amazon basin while small to medium-sized rivers such as the ones flowing towards the Pacific Ocean have been relegated. They highlighted the link between sediment yield, anthropogenic and natural factors, e.g. climate, topography, river runoff, lithology and vegetation cover. In this study, we identified the spatial patterns of specific sediment yield along the western slopes of the Peruvian Andes between 3° and 13° S latitude for 21 catchments. We collected and analysed data from 22 environmental factors to elucidate their importance on spatially varying sediment yield. The sediment load was derived from gauging stations, reservoir sedimentation and water turbidity over a 30-yr period. The specific sediment yield varies strongly along the Peruvian western Andes as a consequence of the spatial variation in climate, topography and land cover controlling sediment production and transport. We reported higher-than-average specific sediment yields for the central part (6°-11°S) with values of 2130 and 2300 t km−2 yr−1 and low and uniform yields of 39 to 551 t km−2 yr−1 in the southern part (11° − 14.5° S). Given the scarcity of data on sediment yield, we included an uncertainty assessment based on bootstrapping approaches as to get a better grasp on the potential range of specific sediment yields in the study region. Using statistical techniques including Spearman correlation rank, univariate and multivariate regression analyses, we were able to determine the importance of the 22 environmental variables on the specific sediment yield. About 55 % of the observed variance can be explained by river discharge (Q90) and river steepness index (ks50). By adding an anthropogenic variable based on land cover, the explained variance in SSY increases up to 63 %, however, the effects of land cover on specific sediment yield are not clear because of spurious correlation between land cover, river discharge and topography. Our study therefore provides important new insights in the ongoing scientific debate on sediment yield variability in the western Andes.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo106699
EstadoPublicada - ene. 2023


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