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Controls on zero order basin morphology

Grieve, Stuart W. D., Hales, Tristram C. ORCID:, Parker, Robert N., Mudd, Simon M. and Clubb, Fiona J. 2018. Controls on zero order basin morphology. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 123 (12) , pp. 3269-3291. 10.1029/2017JF004453

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Zero order basins are common features of soil mantled landscapes, defined as unchanneled basins at the head of a drainage network. Their geometry and volume control how quickly sediment may re‐accumulate after landslide evacuation and how water, and subsequently pore pressure, is delivered to hollow axes. They also deliver water and sediment to the uppermost portions of the fluvial network. Despite this role as the moderator between hillslope and fluvial processes, little analysis on their morphology has been conducted at the landscape scale. We present a method to identify zero order basins in landscapes and subsequently quantify their geometric properties using Elliptical Fourier analysis. We deploy this method across the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, USA. Properties such as length, relief, width, and concavity follow distinct probability distributions which may serve as a basis for testing predictions of future landscape evolution models. Surprisingly, in a landscape with an orographic precipitation gradient and large hillslope to channel relief, we observe no correlation between elevation or spatial location and basin geometry. However, we find that two physiographic units in Coweeta have distinct zero order basin morphologies. These are the steep, thin soiled, high elevation Nantahala Escarpment and the lower gradient, lower elevation, thick soiled remainder of the basin. Our results indicate that basin slope and area negatively covary, producing the distinct forms observed between the two physiographic units, which we suggest arise through competition between spatially variable soil creep and stochastic landsliding.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)
ISSN: 2169-9011
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 21 November 2018
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2023 08:05

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