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CSDMS 2020 Webinars

CSDMS Summer Science Series II: To slide or not to slide: Explicit integration of landslides and sediment dynamics in a landscape evolution model

Benjamin Campforts

University of Colorado, United States

Abstract, Landslides are key agents of sediment production and transport. Ongoing efforts to map and simulate landslides continuously improve our knowledge of landslide mechanisms. However, understanding sediment dynamics following landslide events is equally crucial for developing hazard mitigation strategies. An outstanding research challenge is to better constrain the dynamic feedbacks between landslides and fluvial processes. Fluvial processes simultaneously (i) act as conveyor belts evacuating landslide-derived sediment and (ii) lower the hillslope’s base level triggering further landsliding. Landslides in turn can choke river channels with sediment, thereby critically altering fluvial responses to external tectonic or climatic perturbations. Here, we present HYLANDS, a hybrid landscape evolution model, which is designed to numerically simulate both landslide activity and sediment dynamics following mass failure. The hybrid nature of the model is in its capacity to simulate both erosion and deposition at any place in the landscape. This is achieved by coupling the existing SPACE (Stream Power with Alluvium Conservation and Entrainment) model for channel incision with a new module simulating rapid, stochastic mass wasting (landsliding). In this contribution, we first illustrate the functionality of HYLANDS to capture river dynamics ranging from detachment-limited to transport-limited configurations. Subsequently, we apply the model to a portion of the Namch-Barwa massive in Eastern Tibet and compare simulated and observed landslide magnitude-frequency and area-volume scaling relationships. Finally, we illustrate the relevance of explicitly simulating stochastic landsliding and sediment dynamics over longer timescales on landscape evolution in general and river dynamics in particular under varying climatologic and tectonic configurations.

With HYLANDS we provide a hybrid tool to understand both the long and short-term coupling between stochastic hillslope processes, river incision and source-to-sink sediment dynamics. We further highlight the unique potential of bridging those timescales to generate better assessments of both on-site and downstream landslide risks.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group
  • Geodynamics Focus Research Group