Topographic outcomes predicted by stream erosion models

Sensitivity analysis and intermodel comparison

G. E. Tucker, Kelin Whipple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

251 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mechanistic theories of fluvial erosion are essential for quantifying large-scale orogenic denudation. We examine the topographic implications of two leading classes of river erosion model, detachment-limited and transport-limited, in order to identify diagnostic and testable differences between them. Several formulations predict distinctly different longitudinal profile shapes, which are shown to be closely linked to terrain morphology. Of these, some can be rejected on the basis of unrealistic morphology and slope-area scaling. An expression is derived for total drainage basin relief and its apportionment between hillslope and fluvial components. Relief and valley density are found to vary with tectonic forcing in a manner that reflects erosion physics; these properties therefore constitute an additional set of testable predictions. Finally, transient responses to tectonic perturbations are shown to depend strongly on the degree of nonlinearity in the incision process. These findings indicate that given proper constraints, fluvial erosion theories can be tested on the basis of observed topography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Volume107
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 10 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

sensitivity analysis
Sensitivity analysis
erosion
Erosion
Tectonics
tectonics
relief
transient response
denudation
drainage
hillslope
detachment
drainage basin
Transient analysis
Catchments
rivers
nonlinearity
Topography
valleys
topography

Keywords

  • Erosion
  • Geomorphology
  • Landscape evolution
  • Relief
  • Streams
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

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