Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Cover image for Vol. 120 Issue 3

Impact Factor: 3.44

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 24/173 (Geosciences Multidisciplinary)

Online ISSN: 2169-9011

Associated Title(s): Journal of Geophysical Research

Editors' Highlights

Oregon earthquakes increase local landslide risk (23 July 2014)

Coastal Oregon is home to a number of slow, recurrent landslides. During bouts of heavy rain, water gets into the soil, reducing friction and causing the ground to slip. Often, these landslides creep along at a barely perceptible rate—less than a centimeter per day...[more]

What controls the relief of rocky headlands? (1 May 2014 and 14 April 2014)

Rocky headlands are a common feature of coastlines but vary in their cross-shore “relief” (i.e., how far a headland extends offshore from the coastline), causing some coastlines to be more sinuous and others smoother...[more]

New model describes toppling of salt marsh banks (24 March 2014)

Salt marshes are coastal habitats that store important nutrients and serve as shelter for many estuarial species. These habitats are threatened by rising seas and human expansion...[more]

Bedrock topography influences erosion rate (20 February 2014)

Even small bumps in a river’s bedrock can change how sediment grains erode bedrock, a new modeling study shows. Observations have indicated that bumpy bedrock erodes...[more]

Antarctica's Whillans Ice Plain ice flows are highly variable (7 February 2014)

The Whillans Ice Plain (WIP) is a roughly 20,000-square-kilometer region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that acts as a massive conveyor, driving glacier ice into the Ross Ice Shelf. As the climate...[more]

Trees, more than shrubs, protect against soil erosion (6 February 2014)

Soil erosion and saltation—the transport of ground particles by wind—are significant producers of dust and can damage crops or lead to nutrient-poor soil in semi-arid regions....[more]

Widespread Alaska glacier retreat likely not due to climate change (6 February 2014)

Alaska's Columbia Glacier, which has shed half its mass since 1957, is a dramatic example of how quickly glaciers can shrink. Yet while Columbia has shown a huge decline...[more]

Model describes river meandering (30 January 2014)

Understanding and predicting the evolution of meandering rivers could be useful both to geoscientists and to engineers who may be dealing with practical problems related to....[more]

Tectonic stress feedback loop explains U-shaped glacial valleys (28 January 2014)

In the shadow of the Matterhorn, the broad form of the Matter Valley—like so many throughout the Alps—is interrupted by a deep U-shaped glacial trough. Carved into a landscape...[more]

No climate-erosion feedback system in the western Himalayas (28 November 2013)

As water-laden air climbs up and over the Garhwal Himalayas, a subregion of the Himalayas found in northern India, orographic effects cause rain to fall out in two major bands. The water...[more]

Reforesting degraded lands does not necessarily restore hydrological conditions (20 November 2013)

By the 1980s, forest lands in the Himalayas in central Nepal had become severely degraded as people cleared land for pastures. This led to lowered soil infiltration capacities...[more]

Tying bulk watershed properties to mountain river channel evolution (11 November 2013)

Rivers evolve over tens to thousands of years, winding and drifting and branching from single channels to braided, complex flows. Understanding exactly how and why rivers...[more]

“Sediment capacitors” help explain debris flow events (18 October 2013)

Runoff during rainstorms plays a key role in initiating many debris flow events, but exactly how these debris flow events begin is not well understood. To better understand how debris...[more]

Physics-based model portrays midriver island formation (7 October 2013)

From the Amazon and the Brahmaputra to Russia's Lena, Brazil's Negro, or South America's Paraná River, many of the world's largest rivers share a number of important....[more]

Seismic network detects landslides on broad areal scale (19 September 2013)

From 1999 to 2006, Taiwan's Chenyoulan watershed experienced 48,000 landslides, rock avalanches, and other geomorphic events, the bulk of which....[more]

Water and sediment supply affect basin-filling sedimentation patterns (30 August 2013)

The spatial and temporal variability of sedimentation can affect models that scientists use to interpret the stratigraphic record. To better understand the influence of sedimentation...[more]

Loess landscapes could be major source of dust (14 August 2013)

Dust, which affects weather and climate and can be hazardous to health, can be generated when sand or silt grains are either dislodged from the surface by other windblown ...[more]

Younger sediments more likely to be eroded by meandering rivers (26 July 2013)

The duration of the journey that an individual grain of sand takes as it bounces its way down the length of a river is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to determine...[more]

Beachfront nourishment decisions: the “sucker-free rider” problem (28 May 2013)

Coastal communities and beachfront property owners often respond to erosion by adding sand to restore local beaches. But beach nourishment alters shoreline dynamics, not only at the replenishment site but also in adjacent coastal regions ...[more]

How do braided river dynamics affect sediment storage? (22 May 2013)

Braided rivers, with their continuously changing network of channels, are highly dynamic systems. Four mechanisms of channel change and evolution are considered the classic mechanisms of braided river formation: development of central bars ...[more]

Identifying the physical processes that control the stratigraphic record (14 May 2013)

The stratigraphic record, the sequential layers of sediment that geologists use to reconstruct the history of a landscape, has been described as “more gaps than record.” The record, laid down over time as sediment settles out from flowing water ...[more]

Model tracks sediment dynamics for highly curved meandering rivers (6 May 2013)

Understanding the dynamics of meandering rivers—the twisting, turning, and wandering of waterways over time—is of concern to water managers and civil engineers. How curved a river is affects how it moves, and Ottevanger et al. built on existing ...[more]

The interaction between soil formation and landscape evolution (2 April 2013)

Soil formation and landscape evolution are closely related, but they have generally been considered separately by scientists. Now, Vanwalleghem et al. have created the first model to fully integrate the two. The model, called MILESD, looks at soil formation processes ...[more]

Measuring the forces generated by erosive debris flows (21 March 2013)

Like water flows, debris flows can carve out steep valleys and change landscapes. By studying the mechanics of bedrock incision caused by flowing debris, scientists are better able to understand patterns and rates of landscape evolution. Laboratory studies... [more]

Three-dimensional mapping of airflow over dunes (4 February 2013)

Similarly to the way a river, flowing across Earth’s surface, influences sediment transport and shaping of the landscape, so coastal winds, flowing over dunes, affect how the dune shapes evolve and how sand is transported along the coast ...[more]

River terraces not a good measure of ancient river behavior (22 March 2013)

When a river courses along one path for thousands of years, it can smooth the riverbed. As the river erodes the bedrock, the river level drops below the old riverbed. The beveled bedrock layers flanking the new river... [more]

Similarities Between Rivers and Submarine Channels (22 March 2013)

Scientists have long known that the width and depth of rivers follows a power law relationship with discharge. They have also noticed that submarine channels appear to be similar ... [more]

Storminess helps coastal marshes withstand sea level rise (22 March 2013)

Rising sea levels are predicted to threaten many coastal sea marshes around the world in the coming decades as the Earth’s climate warms. In addition to accelerating sea level rise... [more]

New estimate of volume of glaciers worldwide (11 October 2012)

As climate warms, melting mountain glaciers are likely to significantly contribute to sea level rise over the next decades, but how much they will contribute remains uncertain, as the total volume of Earth's mountain glaciers is not precisely known. Some ... [more]

A probabilistic method of predicting landslides (5 October 2012)

Heavy rainfall events can lead to devastating landslides, but predicting when rainfall will cause a landslide is challenging. Most current landslide prediction methods consider past rainfall events that resulted in landslides, and then use that as input to pr... [more]

New approach to understanding sediment transport (21 September 2012)

Sediment transport is an important factor in the evolution of river channels. Bed load sediment flux, defined as the volume of particles crossing a vertical surface per unit time per unit width, is a common way to describe sediment transport. However, quantify... [more]

African dust forms red soils in Bermuda (1 September 2012)

In Bermuda, red iron-rich clayey soil horizons overlying gray carbonate rocks are visually stunning topographical features. These red soils, called terra rossa, are storehouses of information not only on past local processes that crafted the topography of the ... [more]

Large melt channels discovered underneath Antarctic ice shelves (3 August 2012)

New radar observations reveal melt channels 500 m to 3 km wide and up to 200 m deep underneath the ice shelf buttressing the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica; researchers suggest that the subglacial channels could be a "prelude to eventual collapse" of t... [more]

Streamflow changes following the 2010 Chile earthquake (5 June 2012)

Changes in streamflow and groundwater levels are known to occur following earthquakes. But the mechanisms for the changes in streamflow are not fully understood and vary from one location to another. Mohr et al. (2012) investigated streamflow response i... [more]

Area-based approach improves global sediment discharge modeling (23 May 2012)

By approaching the challenge of calculating global sediment discharge rates from a new angle, Pelletier (2012) developed a model that outperforms many existing simulations while minimizing the number of free parameters. Knowing how sediment is transport... [more]

What drives knickpoints to migrate upstream? (18 May 2012)

Mountain landscapes are shaped by tectonic uplift, which creates topography, and climate, which determines the rate at which erosion wears down upland areas. Networks of rivers and streams transmit both tectonic and climate signals to landscapes—on a fu... [more]

Interdisciplinary technique helps model landslides (21 March 2012)

Much like tracking the flow of colored grains floating in turbulent water, determining the movements of a specific piece of earth on a landslide-prone surface is a challenging task. Though recent advances in three-dimensional surface mapping techniques have im... [more]

River bed transport measurements show bed dilation and contraction (17 February 2012)

A new study of bed load transport—the movement of the gravel or other grains on a stream bed—has turned up a previously undetected effect. Marquis and Roy (2012) used several different methods to monitor bed load activity in a gravel bed riv... [more]

Tracking meltwater retention in Greenland (25 January 2012)

In Greenland, surface melt has increased significantly in area and intensity in recent years. Melting has increased in the accumulation area, normally a region of snow accumulation. This increase in meltwater can affect the ice sheet's mass balance and ice flo... [more]

Capsizing icebergs release earthquake-sized energies (20 January 2012)

A large iceberg can carry a large amount of gravitational potential energy. While all icebergs float with the bulk of their mass submerged beneath the water's surface, some drift around with precarious orientations—they are temporarily stable, but an out... [more]

Earthquake-triggered avalanche altered glacier flow (18 January 2012)

Landslides are common in areas with mountain glaciers and could affect the movement of glaciers. Shugar et al. (2012) used satellite radar imagery and numerical modeling to investigate the effects of earthquake-triggered avalanches on the Black Rapids G... [more]

Operational seismic network estimates rock slide properties (24 November 2011)

During the spring of 1991, near Randa, Switzerland, two subsequent landslides dropped 30,000,000 m3 of debris on the town below. The rocks dammed the Vispa River, a temporary reservoir that would have failed catastrophically had the army not carved ... [more]

Postfire debris flows occur quickly after rainfall starts (5 November 2011)

Areas damaged by forest fires can be vulnerable to debris flows because vegetation is no longer holding dirt and rocks in place, and debris flows in burnt areas can be triggered by much less rainfall than would be needed to trigger a debris flow in an unburned... [more]

Modeling ice stream flow (4 November 2011)

Ice flow speed within an ice sheet can vary from a few meters to thousands of meters per year. Fast flowing ice streams can affect sea level, and their flow variation is one factor that determines whether an ice sheet is gaining or losing mass. But different i... [more]

Subsurface structure affects landslide susceptibility (22 October 2011)

The likelihood of landslides on an exposed bedrock hill is dependent on both the strength of the bedrock and the slope of the hill. In general, stronger rocks provide increased resilience against landslides and are capable of supporting steeper slopes. But for... [more]

Using cosmogenic nuclides to quantify pebble abrasion in rivers (15 October 2011)

Sediment transport drives channel erosion and shaping of rivers, so understanding sediment dynamics is a key factor in understanding landscape evolution. Rates of river bedrock erosion depend on the properties of sediment transport, including the grain size di... [more]

Finding rates of incorporation of windblown dust into soils (15 September 2011)

As winds blow dust around, a significant amount settles back into terrestrial soils, providing minerals to the soils and affecting soil chemistry and erosion rates. However, the rate at which dust is incorporated into regolith, the loose soil and rock on surfa... [more]

Earthquake-generated landslides are an important control of riverbed erosion (24 August 2011)

River erosion is a powerful shaper of topography, cutting through bedrock and over time converting smooth terrain to rolling hills or jagged cliffs. The rate of bedrock incision is influenced by the stream's slope and width, the water's flow rate, and the p... [more]

The effect of sediment on mountain river erosion (1 June 2011)

Mountain uplift and subsequent water-powered erosion are powerful and persistent processes shaping the landscape, and understanding the interactions between these two processes has been an area of active research for the past 2 decades. The rate of river erosi... [more]

Statistical model predicts shoreline erosion rates due to sea level rise (22 April 2011)

While sea level rise in the face of global warming is a well-acknowledged threat, providing estimates of the local impact—the information needed by planners to develop effective strategies against the rising waters—has been difficult. Many attempts... [more]

What controls the shape of sediment channels in river deltas? (21 December 2010)

When turbulent, sediment-filled rivers empty into oceans and lakes, the channels often divide repeatedly to form triangular deltas. Some channels, however, travel long distances before bifurcating, creating elongated channels. Understanding how these patterns ... [more]