We review results from laboratory-scale modelling of erosion and relief dynamics under variable uplift and rainfall rates. Under constant values of these forcing parameters an experimental landscape typically evolves towards a steady-state between uplift and erosion, and we show how the geometry of the steady-state landscape adjusts to the rates of uplift and rainfall. The comparison between these laboratory-scale landscapes and the natural ones is not straightforward because contrary to analogue modelling in tectonics, natural conditions of relief evolution cannot be downscaled to the laboratory without any scale distortions. Laboratory-scale modelling in geomorphology is therefore only experimental, not analogue. Despite these limitations, experimental models may be used to provide physical tests for numerical models and they give insights into first-order behaviours and directions for future research.
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The crust of the Earth records the deformational processes of the inner Earth and the influence of the overlying atmosphere. The state of the Earth’s crust at any time is therefore the result of internal and external processes, which occur on different time and spatial scales. In recent years important steps forward in the understanding of such complex processes have been made by integrating theory and observations with experimental and computer models. This volume presents state-of-the-art analogue and numerical models of processes that alter the Earth’s crust. It shows the application of models in a broad range of geological problems with careful documentation of the modelling approach used. This volume contains contributions on analogue and numerical sandbox models, models of orogenic processes, models of sedimentary basins, models of surface processes and deformation, and models of faults and fluid flow.