Extraordinary floods related to the climatic event at 4200 a BP on the Qishuihe River, middle reaches of the Yellow River, China
Palaeo-hydrological study was carried out in the Qishuihe River valley in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. Several bedsets of flood slackwater deposit were identified in the Holocene loess-soil sequences on the riverbanks. They were differentiated from aeolian loess and soils by the parallel and waving beddings and the distinctive stratigraphic breaks separating individual palaeoflood events. Chronology of the flood events was established by OSL dating, checked by archaeological identification of the anthropogenic remains retrieved from the sequences. The results show that successive floods occurred between 4300 and 4000 a BP in association with the abrupt climatic event of 4200 a BP. These overbank floods had the riverbank settlement inundated repeatedly. Another series of extraordinary floods occurred between 3200 and 3000 a BP when monsoonal climate shifted from the mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum toward late Holocene dry conditions. The climatic event of 4200 a BP and the climatic decline at 3100 a BP were believed to be characterized by droughts previously. This work provides solid evidence that both severe droughts and extreme floods were parts of the climatic variability during abrupt climatic event and climatic decline in the semi-arid to sub-humid zones over the world.