The Earth's dynamic surface: an overview
Kerry Gallagher, Stuart Jones, John Wainwright, 2008. "The Earth's dynamic surface: an overview", Landscape Evolution: Denudation, Climate and Tectonics over Different Time and Space Scales, K. Gallagher, S. J. Jones, J. Wainwright
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Debate about the relative roles of catastrophic v. continuous processes of landform evolution is as old as the discipline of Earth Science itself. Over the last 10 years or so, research in the Earth Sciences has focussed strongly on the Earth's surface and particularly in terms of quantifying rates of processes. This research parallels developments in geomorphology and sedimentology in the quantification of surface processes since the 1950s and 1960s. These surface processes are the manifestation of the large-scale interaction of climate and tectonics operating over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Thus, recent research had required integration of the historically distinct subjects of geomorphology, sedimentology, climatology and tectonics. Partly as a cause and partly as a consequence of this integration, there have been many recent developments in quantitative modelling and both laboratory and field-based analytical tools. Together, these have provided new insights into absolute and relative rates of denudation, and the factors that control the many dynamic processes involved.
One of the outstanding issues concerns the balance between tectonics, climate and denudation, and in particular the limiting effects of one on the others and the nature of dynamic feedback mechanisms. The fact that processes can be considered catastrophic or continuous, depending on the timescale of observation or interest, can hinder the predictability of models, depending on how they are formulated. Certain conditions may lead to a steady-state situation in which denudation balances tectonic uplift, leading to a more or less constant topography. Steady-state topography means that detailed study
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Landscape Evolution: Denudation, Climate and Tectonics over Different Time and Space Scales
The morphology of Earth’s surface reflects the interaction of climate, tectonics and denudational processes operating over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These processes can be considered catastrophic or continuous; depending on the timescale of observation or interest. Recent research had required integration of historically distinct subjects such as geomorphology, sedimentology, climatology and tectonics. Together, these have provided new insights into absolute and relative rates of denudation, and the factors that control the many dynamic processes involved. Specific subject areas covered are sediment transport processes and the timescales of competing processes, the role of the geological record and landscapes in constraining different processes, the nature of landscape evolution at different spatial scales and in contrasting geological environments.