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Fluvial Sedimentology: An Historical Review
Naturalists have been aware of the importance of rivers as depositional agents since the time of Herodotus and Aristotle although, until the mid-nineteenth century, there was a tendency to attribute “diluvial gravels” to the action of “The Deluge”. Modern sedimentological concepts began with Lyell in 1830, and owe much to the subsequent work of Sorby, Walther, Gilbert, Barrell and Grabau. In the twentieth century sedimentological studies became highly specialized, with a resultant partial breakdown in communication between specialist groups. Six main themes can be traced: descriptive fluvial geomorphology, quantitative geomorphology (the study of hydraulic relationships), sediment transport and textural studies, bedforms and paleocurrents, facies studies, and paleohydraulics.
Modem concepts of fluvial sedimentary processes can be traced back to the detailed work of Fisk on the Mississippi River during and following the Second World War, the development of the flow regime concept by Simons and Richardson and of facies models by Allen. These and other developments are reviewed, and it is shown how the other papers in this book contribute to the overall development of fluvial sedimentology.
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