The Madeira River is the second largest tributary of the Amazon River. It contributes approximately 13% of the Amazon River flow and it may contribute up to 50% of its sediment discharge to the Atlantic Ocean. Until now, the suspended sediment load of the Madeira River was not well known and was estimated in a broad range from 240 to 715 Mt yr−1. Since 2002, the HYBAM international network developed a new monitoring programme specially designed to provide more reliable data than in previous intents. It is based on the continuous monitoring of a set of 11 gauging stations in the Madeira River watershed from the Andes piedmont to the confluence with the Amazon River, and discrete sampling of the suspended sediment concentration every 7 or 10 days. This paper presents the results of the suspended sediment data obtained in the Madeira drainage basin during 2002–2011. The Madeira River suspended sediment load is estimated at 430 Mt yr−1 near its confluence with the Amazon River. The average production of the Madeira River Andean catchment is estimated at 640 Mt yr−1 (±30%), the corresponding sediment yield for the Andes is estimated at 3000 t km−2 yr−1 (±30%), and the average denudation rate is estimated at 1.20 mm yr−1 (±30%). Contrary to previous results that had mentioned high sedimentation rates in the Beni River floodplain, we detected no measurable sedimentation process in this part of the basin. On the Mamoré River basin, we observed heavy sediment deposition of approximately 210 Mt yr−1 that seem to confirm previous studies. But while these studies mentioned heavy sedimentation in the floodplain, we showed that sediment deposition occurred mainly in the Andean piedmont and immediate foreland in rivers (Parapeti, Grande, Pirai, Yapacani, Chimoré, Chaparé, Secure, Maniqui) with discharges that are not sufficiently large to transport their sediment load downstream in the lowlands.
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V.
- Amazon basin
- Andes erosion rate
- Annual fluxes
- Erosion sedimentation denudation
- Madeira River
- Suspended sediment load