CTSP: Coupling of Tectonic and Surface Processes

Reconciling landscape models with reality: a spectrum of success

Brian Yanites

Indiana University-Bloomington, United States

The development of quantitative models of landscape evolution requires a rigorous assessment of how well they represent natural system dynamics. For some locations and processes, the models have been shown to provide reasonable representations of landscape dynamics over a range of timescales; however, in a number of cases, rather straightforward tests suggest our simplified approaches may require further development. I discuss some of these lingering issues in quantitative geomorphology with a focus on the ubiquitous ‘stream power model’ and show how different approaches offer potential solutions to implementation in landscape evolution models. I will show examples focusing on how climate and lithology are represented in landscape evolution models as well as discuss the limitations of representing a river channel with a 1-dimensional model. I summarize by suggesting that an iterative approach of numerical predictions, rigorous field assessment, and adjustment of theory is needed to fully capture and understand the dynamics of landscapes.

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