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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

Modeling fluvial erosion on regional to continental scales

Authors

  • Alan D. Howard,

  • William E. Dietrich,

  • Michele A. Seidl


Abstract

The fluvial system is a major concern in modeling landform evolution in response to tectonic deformation. Three stream bed types (bedrock, coarse-bed alluvial, and fine-bed alluvial) differ in factors controlling their occurrence and evolution and in appropriate modeling approaches. Spatial and temporal transitions among bed types occur in response to changes in sediment characteristics and tectonic deformation. Erosion in bedrock channels depends upon the ability to scour or pluck bed material; this detachment capacity is often a power function of drainage area and gradient. Exposure of bedrock in channel beds, due to rapid downcutting or resistant rock, slows the response of headwater catchments to downstream baselevel changes. Sediment routing through alluvial channels must account for supply from slope erosion, transport rates, abrasion, and sorting. In regional landform modeling, implicit rate laws must be developed for sediment production from erosion of sub-grid-scale slopes and small channels.

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