Debris flows as a factor of hillslope evolution controlled by a continuous or a pulse process?
Eric Bardou, Michel Jaboyedoff, 2008. "Debris flows as a factor of hillslope evolution controlled by a continuous or a pulse process?", Landscape Evolution: Denudation, Climate and Tectonics over Different Time and Space Scales, K. Gallagher, S. J. Jones, J. Wainwright
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Flood effectiveness observations imply that two families of processes describe the formation of debris flow volume. One is related to the rainfall–erosion relationship, and can be seen as a gradual process, and one is related to additional geological/geotechnical events, those named hereafter extraordinary events. In order to discuss the hypothesis of coexistence of two modes of volume formation, some methodologies are applied. Firstly, classical approaches consisting in relating volume to catchments characteristics are considered. These approaches raise questions about the quality of the data rather than providing answers concerning the controlling processes. Secondly, we consider statistical approaches (cumulative number of events distribution and cluster analysis) and these suggest the possibility of having two distinct families of processes. However the quantitative evaluation of the threshold differs from the one that could be obtained from the first approach, but they all agree in the sense of the coexistence of two families of events. Thirdly, a conceptual model is built exploring how and why debris flow volume in alpine catchments changes with time. Depending on the initial condition (sediment production), the model shows that large debris flows (i.e. with important volume) are observed in the beginning period, before a steady-state is reached. During this second period debris flow volume such as is observed in the beginning period is not observed again. Integrating the results of the three approaches, two case studies are presented showing: (1) the possibility to observe in a catchment large volumes that will never happen again due to a drastic decrease in the sediment availability, supporting its difference from gradual erosion processes; (2) that following a rejuvenation of the sediment storage (by a rock avalanche) the magnitude–frequency relationship of a torrent can be differentiated into two phases, the beginning one with large and frequent debris flow and a later one with debris flow less intense and frequent, supporting the results of the conceptual model. Although the results obtained cannot identify a clear threshold between the two families of processes, they show that some debris flows can be seen as pulse of sediment differing from that expected from gradual erosion.
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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.