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Rivers through geological time: the fluvial contribution to understanding of our planet

Bridgland, D.R.; Bennett, J.A.; McVicar-Wright, S.E.; Scrivener, R.C.

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J.A. Bennett

S.E. McVicar-Wright

R.C. Scrivener


Fluvial rocks and sediments form an important part of the geological record from the terrestrial environment, from the Archaean to the recent. Precambrian fluvial archives record the change in Earth's atmosphere from anoxic to oxygen-rich, while the absence of land plants led to significant differences between Precambrian and Palaeozoic fluvial regimes and those from later in the geological record. In the Mesozoic and Cenozoic river valleys were populated by land animals and their deposits are repositories for the fossils that record these biomes: dinosaurs and mammals being the prominent groups, respectively, in these eras. By the Cenozoic some of the drainage systems that exist at present had been initiated; their evolution during this era, and especially in the Quaternary, is evident from fluvial archives worldwide. The record of Quaternary rivers reveals the increasing influence of global cooling, with the severity of climate a potential driver of erosional isostatic uplift, bringing about incision of landscapes and the formation of river terraces in all but the most stable areas and subsiding basins. In the Holocene the fluvial environment experienced increasing influences from early humans as catchments and slopes were transformed by deforestation and farming, and later by industries such as mineral mining. These themes are represented in contributions to this special issue, arising from a Geologists’ Association conference and field meeting convened in Exeter in October 2012.


Bridgland, D., Bennett, J., McVicar-Wright, S., & Scrivener, R. (2014). Rivers through geological time: the fluvial contribution to understanding of our planet. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 125(5-6), 503-510.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 20, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 4, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 24, 2015
Journal Proceedings of the Geologists' Association
Print ISSN 0016-7878
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 125
Issue 5-6
Pages 503-510
Keywords Fluvial deposits, Terrestrial environments, Red beds, Drainage evolution.


Accepted Journal Article (564 Kb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Geologists' Association. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 125, December 2014, 10.1016/j.pgeola.2014.11.001.

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