PIRATARIA FLUVIAL NA SERRA DO ESPIGÃO: DIVISÓRIA DOS RIOS URUGUAI E IGUAÇU, AMÉRICA DO SUL
RIVER PIRACY IN THE SERRA DO ESPIGÃO: URUGUAY AND IGUAÇU RIVERS DIVIDE, SOUTH AMERICA
Stream capture is a drainage rearrangement where a flux transference occurs and a contribution area from a drainage basin is incorporated to another. It is about expanding a river system over another one, caused by erosive advantage earned by conditioning factors such as lithostructure, pluviometric regime, topographic gradient, and base level. However, in the southern region of Brazil, a rare dynamic of stream piracy was verified between the drainage basins of the Uruguay and Iguazu (Paraná) rivers. Stream captures were observed along the Serra of Espigão, part of the drainage divide between the two basins. Still, it was not possible to identify which basin was advancing over the other. This paper investigated the occurrence of stream captures, identifying which factors are responsible for this atypical stream dynamic. Mapping the stream captures by remote sensing and further validation with fieldwork, it was verified that there is stream piracy for both sides of the drainage divide. Still, it is not clear which basin is behaving more aggressively. A longitudinal profile analysis of the channels involved in the stream captures showed a local control in the drainage network. This control sets a local base level to the Iguazu river tributaries. It indicates the lithostructural limit between two different geological units: the Serra Geral group basalts and the Botucatu formation sandstones. Depending on the geographic location of this base level, channels that drain to the Iguazu (Paraná) river become more aggressive or less aggressive than the ones that drain to the Uruguai basin, and so they capture or lose area for the other basin. Therefore, it is impossible to identify a river basin that exclusively pirates the other, prevailing, in this case, a mutual competition between the Uruguai and Iguazu (Paraná) rivers basins. This fact highlights the significance of local base levels to promote stream capture processes.