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Scale-dependent erosional patterns in steady-state and transient-state landscapes.

Tejedor, A. and Singh, A. and Zaliapin, I. and Densmore, A.L. and Foufoula-Georgiou, E. (2017) 'Scale-dependent erosional patterns in steady-state and transient-state landscapes.', Science advances., 3 (9). e1701683.

Abstract

Landscape topography is the expression of the dynamic equilibrium between external forcings (for example, climate and tectonics) and the underlying lithology. The magnitude and spatial arrangement of erosional and depositional fluxes dictate the evolution of landforms during both statistical steady state (SS) and transient state (TS) of major landscape reorganization. For SS landscapes, the common expectation is that any point of the landscape has an equal chance to erode below or above the landscape median erosion rate. We show that this is not the case. Afforded by a unique experimental landscape that provided a detailed space-time recording of erosional fluxes and by defining the so-called E50-area curve, we reveal for the first time that there exists a hierarchical pattern of erosion. Specifically, hillslopes and fluvial channels erode more rapidly than the landscape median erosion rate, whereas intervening parts of the landscape in terms of upstream contributing areas (colluvial regime) erode more slowly. We explain this apparent paradox by documenting the dynamic nature of SS landscapes—landscape locations may transition from being a hillslope to being a valley and then to being a fluvial channel due to ridge migration, channel piracy, and small-scale landscape dynamics through time. Under TS conditions caused by increased precipitation, we show that the E50-area curve drastically changes shape during landscape reorganization. Scale-dependent erosional patterns, as observed in this study, suggest benchmarks in evaluating numerical models and interpreting the variability of sampled erosional rates in field landscapes.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1701683
Publisher statement:© 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:07 September 2017
Date deposited:12 September 2017
Date of first online publication:27 September 2017
Date first made open access:No date available

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