A combined nonlinear and nonlocal model for topographic evolution in channelized depositional systems

Authors

  • F. Falcini,

    1. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Istituto di Scienze dell'Atmosfera e del Clima, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome, Italy
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  • E. Foufoula-Georgiou,

    1. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • V. Ganti,

    1. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    3. Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
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  • C. Paola,

    1. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • V. R. Voller

    Corresponding author
    1. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    • Corresponding author: V. R. Voller, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 2 3rd Ave SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA. (volle001@umn.edu)

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Abstract

[1] Models for the overall topographic evolution of erosional and depositional systems can be grouped into two broad classes. The first class is local models in which the sediment flux at a point is expressed as a linear or nonlinear function of local hydrogeomorphic measures (e.g., water discharge and slope). The second class is nonlocal models, where the sediment flux at a point is expressed via a weighted average (i.e., convolution integral) of measures upstream and/or downstream of the point of interest. Until now, the nonlinear and nonlocal models have been developed independently. In this study, we develop a unified model for large-scale morphological evolution that combines both nonlinear and nonlocal approaches. With this model, we show that in a depositional system, under piston-style subsidence, the topographic signatures of nonlinearity and nonlocality are identical and that in combination, their influence is additive. Furthermore, unlike either nonlinear or nonlocal models alone, the combined model fits observed fluvial profiles with parameter values that are consistent with theory and independent observations. By contrast, under conditions of steady bypass, the nonlocal and nonlinear components in the combined model have distinctly different signatures. In the absence of nonlocality, a purely nonlinear model always predicts a bypass fluvial profile with a spatially constant slope, while a nonlocal model produces a nonconstant slope, i.e., profile curvature. This result can be used as a test for inferring the presence of nonlocality and for untangling the relative roles of local and nonlocal mechanisms in shaping depositional morphology.

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