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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Highlight articles

We use a seismometer network to detect and locate rockfalls, a key process shaping steep mountain landscapes. When tested against laser scan surveys, all seismically detected events could be located with an average deviation of 81 m. Seismic monitoring provides insight to the dynamics of individual rockfalls, which can be as small as 0.0053 m3. Thus, seismic methods provide unprecedented temporal, spatial and kinematic details about this important process.

Michael Dietze, Solmaz Mohadjer, Jens M. Turowski, Todd A. Ehlers, and Niels Hovius

Our work presents a novel method of measuring the capacity of deltaic landforms to trap and retain river-borne sediments, and we demonstrate that sediment retention is closely connected to sedimentary composition. Our results, supported by a unique high-resolution coring dataset in a major crevasse splay, show that finer sediments are a much larger component of the Mississippi Delta than is often acknowledged and that their abundance indicates exceptionally high rates of sediment retention.

Christopher R. Esposito, Zhixiong Shen, Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, Jonathan Marshak, and Christopher White

Floodplains and fluvial terraces can provide information about current and past river systems, helping to reveal how channels respond to changes in both climate and tectonics. We present a new method of identifying these features objectively from digital elevation models by analysing their slope and elevation compared to the modern river. We test our method in eight field sites, and find that it provides rapid and reliable extraction of floodplains and terraces across a range of landscapes.

Fiona J. Clubb, Simon M. Mudd, David T. Milodowski, Declan A. Valters, Louise J. Slater, Martin D. Hurst, and Ajay B. Limaye

Spatial bedrock erosion data from stream channels are important for engineering issues and landscape evolution model assessment. However, acquiring such data is challenging and only few data sets exist. Detecting changes in repeated photographs of painted bedrock surfaces easily allows for semi-quantitative conclusions on the spatial distribution of sediment transport and its effects: abrasion on surfaces facing the streamflow and shielding of surfaces by abundant sediment.

Alexander R. Beer, James W. Kirchner, and Jens M. Turowski

Rapid dissolution of bedrock and regolith mobilised by landslides can be an important control on rates of overall chemical weathering in mountain ranges. In this study we analysed a number of landslides and rivers in Taiwan to better understand why this occurs. We find that sulfuric acid resulting from rapid oxidation of highly reactive sulfides in landslide deposits drives the intense weathering and can set catchment-scale solute budgets. This could be a CO2 source in fast-eroding mountains.

R. Emberson, N. Hovius, A. Galy, and O. Marc

Accurately predicting gravel transport rates in mountain rivers is difficult because of feedbacks with channel morphology. River bed surfaces evolve during floods, influencing transport rates. I propose that the threshold of gravel motion is a state variable for channel reach evolution. I develop a new model to predict how transport thresholds evolve as a function of transport rate, and then use laboratory flume experiments to calibrate and validate the model.

J. P. L. Johnson

In regions formerly, or currently, covered by glaciers, landscapes have largely been shaped by glaciers. Glaciers erode bedrock through three main mechanisms: abrasion, quarrying, and subglacial meltwater erosion (SME). The latter, however, remains enigmatic. We present the first numerical modelling study of bedrock erosion by subglacial water and find that SME is negligible compared to abrasion and quarrying across the glacier, but its localization can explain the formation of bedrock channels.

F. Beaud, G. E. Flowers, and J. G. Venditti

A physical scale model of a gravel-bed braided river was used to measure vertical grain size sorting in the morphological active layer defined as the bed material between the maximum and minimum bed elevation. By normalizing active layer thickness and dividing into 10 sublayers we show that all grain sizes occur with almost equal frequency in all sublayers. Occurrence of patches and strings of coarser material relates to preservation of particular morphotextural features within the active layer.

P. Leduc, P. Ashmore, and J. T. Gardner

We use ice-penetrating-radar data to identify a laterally continuous, gently sloping topographic block, comprising two surfaces separated by a distinct break in slope, preserved beneath the Institute and Möller ice streams, West Antarctica. We interpret these features as extensive erosion surfaces, showing that ancient (pre-glacial) surfaces can be preserved at low elevations beneath ice sheets. Different erosion regimes (e.g. fluvial and marine) may have formed these surfaces.

K. C. Rose, N. Ross, R. G. Bingham, H. F. J. Corr, F. Ferraccioli, T. A. Jordan, A. M. Le Brocq, D. M. Rippin, and M. J. Siegert

In this work we present DeltaRCM, a reduced-complexity model for river delta formation. It is a rule-based cellular morphodynamic model, in contrast to reductionist models based on detailed computational fluid dynamics. DeltaRCM is able to resolve channel dynamics and to produce stratigraphy. We also explain the meaning of complexity reduction, especially  the essential processes to be included in modeling deltas.

M. Liang, V. R. Voller, and C. Paola

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