Relict slope deposits of Serra da Estrela (Portugal)


Alexandre Trindade Nieuwendam
PhD Candidate and Research Assistant
Research Group on Antarctic Environments and Climate Change – AntECC
Centro de Estudos Geográficos / IGOT, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Depósito de Manteigas. Click to enlarge.
Depósito de Manteigas. Click to enlarge.

My work focuses on the study of relict slope deposits that are accumulations of sediments in a slope position or near its base. They are essentially controlled by gravity action, which may or not be supported by water, ice or wind and are particularly significant in periglacial environments, where they relate to specific landforms and sedimentary structures.

Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain in Portugal (1993 masl) and part of the Iberian Central Range. The mountain has a strong relief and a lithological diversity with several types of granitoids and metasediments. Most of the western plateau area was glaciated during the Last Glacial Maximum and it’s morphology is dominated by glacial landforms.

Our work is based on the systematical application of sedimentological techniques of analysis and dating, supported by detailed geomorphological surveying and by spatial analysis using GIS. The sedimentological analysis includes macroscopic description of sedimentary units and structures, fabric analysis, clast morphometry and characteristics of matrix elements. Samples from different stratigraphic units of slope deposits are being analyzed for grain-size analysis of coarse and fine fractions, organic matter content, thin-section micromorphology and exoscopy of quartz grains.

Depósito de São Sebastião. Click to enlarge
Depósito de São Sebastião. Click to enlarge

Our main goals are to contribute to the better understanding of the morphogenetical significance of the different types of slope deposits including clarifying the role of cold environment processes and also to develop a chronological framework for the Late Quaternary evolution of the slope environment.

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