Origin and evolution of Sariñena Lake (central Ebro Basin): A piping-based model
Castañeda del Alamo, Carmen
Gracia, F. Javier
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The origin and nature of the numerous lakes in the central Ebro Basin have been interpreted according to the prevailing arid or semiarid conditions, the easily-eroded materials and the solubility of the gypsum- and/or carbonate-rich Tertiary/Cenozoic substratum, involving important dissolution (karstic)
and/or aeolian deflation. However, the origin of Sariñena Lake, the largest in the central Ebro Basin, remains unknown since the typical lake-generating processes in the region are not applicable. This work provides significant clues to the genesis and evolution of Sariñena Lake in a regional context. The combination of geomorphological mapping and high resolution LiDAR data together with sedimentological observations, the characterisation of soils and sediments around the lake, and the application of high-resolution geophysical techniques suggest that piping is the major genetic process driving the evolution of the Sariñena depression and lake. Field evidence demonstrates that piping is, at present, the most important erosive process in the region, generating significant collapse and surface lowering. Sariñena Lake is located within a deep endorheic depression excavated from Na-rich Tertiary materials. This work hypothesises that once an early, fluvially-originated palustrine area had developed, the progressive lowering of the regional water table linked to regional fluvial incision favoured the establishment of a hydrological gradient high enough to trigger piping processes within the claystones and siltstones underlying the original palustrine area. The Quaternary evolution of the Sariñena lacustrine basin was then controlled by successive water table fluctuations, linked to different phases of incision and alluvial deposition in the surrounding fluvial systems. All the evidence supporting a piping-related origin for this lake, together with examples of lakes generated by similar processes in different contexts, is used to propose a new genetic type of lacustrine depression, generated by piping processes under favourable conditions.