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Measuring landscape evolution from inception to maturity: Insights from a coastal dune system
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences. The University of Queensland, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1998-1817
Number of Authors: 42022 (English)In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, ISSN 0012-821X, E-ISSN 1385-013X, Vol. 584, article id 117448Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The concept of the geomorphic cycle is a foundational principle in geology and geomorphology, but the topographic evolution of a single landscape from inception to maturity has been difficult to demonstrate in nature. The onlapping dunes of the Cooloola Sand Mass (CSM) in eastern Australia provide an ideal chronosequence to evaluate landscape evolution. Here commonly assumed properties on which landscape models are based (i.e., conservation of mass and major factors contributing to landscape change) can be physically measured and accounted for. Our field based measurements and forward numerical models demonstrate that dunes, like other landscapes, relax in an exponential manner. The emplaced dunes evolve through an initial phase of rapid topographic adjustment associated with the dominance of landsliding. This phase continues for ∼1 kyr until hillslope gradients are lowered below their angle of repose (0.65 m m−1 or 33°). Once sufficiently lowered, the dunes evolve through slow, soil creep processes. These findings of dual transport regimes are validated by stratigraphic records at all excavated dune foot-slopes and we propose that this evolution can be measured by the distribution of curvature (C) of a landform, specifically its standard deviation (σC), as a measure of surface roughness. Surface roughness smooths with time through diffusional sediment transport that lowers local relief. The value and its rate of smoothing can define the stage in evolutionary development and help infer processes, which makes it an important morphometric tool for understanding landscapes. These observations highlight that under stable evolutionary conditions, the development of the landscape is governed by the physical properties of the dune's parent material. In addition, our findings support landscape evolution inferences from numerical and physical models and the coupling of granular material physics with landscape change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 584, article id 117448
Keywords [en]
surface roughness, curvature, soil diffusion, soil transport, parabolic dunes, Holocene
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-204399DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117448ISI: 000782122700002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-204399DiVA, id: diva2:1656507
Available from: 2022-05-06 Created: 2022-05-06 Last updated: 2022-05-06Bibliographically approved

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Ellerton, Daniel T.

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