Sedimentary facies and Holocene progradation rates of the Changjiang (Yangtze) delta, China

Kazuaki Hori, Yoshiki Saito, Quanhong Zhao, Xinrong Cheng, Pinxian Wang, Yoshio Sato, Congxian Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Citations (Scopus)


The Changjiang (Yangtze) River, one of the largest rivers in the world, has formed a broad tide-dominated delta at its mouth during the Holocene sea-level highstand. Three boreholes (CM97, JS98, and HQ98) were obtained from the Changjiang delta plain in 1997-1998 to clarify the characteristics of tide-dominated delta sediments and architecture. Based on sediment composition and texture, and faunal content, core sediments were divided into six depositional units. In ascending order, they were interpreted as tidal sand ridge, prodelta, delta-front, subtidal to lower intertidal flat, upper intertidal flat, and surface soil deposits. The deltaic sequence from the prodelta deposits to the delta front deposits showed an upward-coarsening succession, overlain by an upward-fining succession from the uppermost part of the delta front deposits to the surface soil. Thinly interlaminated to thinly interbedded sand and mud (sand-mud couplets), and bidirectional cross laminations in these deposits show that tide is the key factor affecting the formation of Changjiang deltaic facies. Sediment facies and their succession combined with AMS 14C dating revealed that isochron lines cross unit boundaries clearly, and delta progradation has occurred since about 6000 to 7000 years BP, when the rising sea level neared or reached its present position. The average progradation rate of the delta front was approximately 50 km/kyear over the last 5000 years. The progradation rate, however, increased abruptly ca. 2000 years BP, going from 38 to 80 km/kyear. The possible causes for this active progradation could have been an increase in sediment production in the drainage basin due to widespread human interference and/or decrease in deposition in the middle reaches related to the channel stability caused by human activity and climatic cooling after the mid-Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Chanjiang (Yangtze) River
  • Progradation
  • Sea-level change
  • Sediment discharge
  • Tide-dominated delta


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