Special issue "Floodplain architecture of fluvial anthropospheres" DFG Priority Programme 2361

11 March 2024

Floodplains represent a global hotspot of sensitive socio-environmental changes and early human forcing mechanisms. Floodplains are exceptionally dynamic landscapes and key areas of cultural and natural heritage. Due to their high land-use capacity and the simultaneous necessity of land reclamation and risk minimization, societies have radically restructured floodplains. The questions therefore arise as to whether or when it is justified to understand floodplains as "fluvial anthropospheres" and which socio-ecological processes have contributed to their development.

In this E&G Quaternary Science Journal special issue, we aim to highlight challenges and propose research strategies for identifying and quantifying anthropogenic impacts on floodplain architectures. We call for interdisciplinary contributions from near-surface geophysics, fluvial geomorphology, remote sensing, history, and archaeology that provide sweet spots for uncovering human impacts on fluvial architectures and chemostratigraphies.

Beside floodplain architecture, this also includes sediment stratigraphies from oxbow lakes, mires, canals, and artificial ponds. This will support the building up of a common ground of standardized methods and nomenclature for comparative analyses of different floodplain types towards the evolution of human-dominated fluvial stratigraphies and morphologies. However, there are also applications from the humanities that provide information about past and present fluvial architecture, such as the systematic analysis of toponyms (place names) or material culture. In addition, it is very helpful to classify the features of anthropogenic floodplain architecture in terms of the scope and limits, not only in a natural–scientific way but also with a regard to the questions of why humans became a significant controlling factor, how they modified floodplains, and which socio-cultural processes have been involved.

Methods and approaches with which we try to grasp the fluvial architecture are

  • geophysical prospection methods, like electromagnetic induction (EMI), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), ground penetrating radar (GPR), or cutting-edge direct-push sensing;
  • on-site documentation of stratigraphies from exposures or recovered cores;
  • grain size analysis and grain size endmember modeling;
  • the build-up of chemostratigraphies from XRF, ICP-MS, ICP-OES, AAS, and CNS element analyses or from a large set of further geochemical and ecotoxicological approaches;
  • dating techniques to build up chronological control and chronostratigraphies;
  • morphometric analysis, digital elevation models (DEMs), and a large set of remote sensing applications including photogrammetry, radar, and light detection and ranging (lidar);
  • landscape development models and further quantitative spatial explicit simulations;
  • new and traditional biological proxies of biological chronostratigraphy and floodplain histories; and
  • analysis of old maps and other archives of past societies (written sources, toponyms, and archaeological heritage).

This special issue is an excellent opportunity to link the initial geoscientific, archaeological, and historical results of the DFG Priority Programme 2361 "On the Way to the Fluvial Anthroposphere", and it also provides an open call for new insights into the evolution of floodplain architectures towards an anthropogenic world.