We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Detection of channel-hillslope coupling along a tectonic gradient.

Hurst, Martin D. and Grieve, Stuart W.D. and Clubb, Fiona J. and Mudd, Simon M. (2019) 'Detection of channel-hillslope coupling along a tectonic gradient.', Earth and planetary science letters., 522 . pp. 30-39.


Landscape morphology reflects the spatial and temporal history of erosion. Erosion in turn embodies the competition between tectonic and climatic processes. Quantitative analysis of topography can therefore reveal the driving tectonic conditions that have influenced landscape development, when combined with theoretical understanding of erosion processes. Recent developments in the automated analysis of high-resolution (<10 m) topographic data mean that integrated analysis of hillslope and channel topographic metrics can provide understanding of the transient response of landscapes to changing boundary conditions. We perform high-resolution topographic analysis of hillslopes and channels in small (<3 km2) catchments spanning an inferred uplift gradient along the Bolinas Ridge, California, USA, revealing tight coupling between channel steepness and hillslope metrics thought to be proxies for erosion rates. We find that the concavity of channel longitudinal profiles varies inversely with uplift rates, although drainage density increases with uplift rates. Both of these results can be explained by the contribution of mass wasting processes to valley formation in steeper (high uplift rate) landscapes. At the catchment scale, hillslope and channel metrics for erosion are correlated, hillslopes and channels steepen in concert, and hilltops (ridges) get sharper with increased uplift rate. This broad agreement suggests that hillslopes are responding to erosion rates in the channel network, which implies that landscape uplift is relatively stable and prolonged. Hillslope morphology deviates systematically from the steady-state predictions of established geomorphic transport laws, suggesting that hillslope adjustment is ongoing and that relief is growing.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2019 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:18 June 2019
Date deposited:03 July 2019
Date of first online publication:01 July 2019
Date first made open access:01 July 2020

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar