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Abstract

In contrast with the archetypal definition of an alluvial fan, this study shows that fans interacting with axial rivers in Yukon and Alaska commonly exhibit asymmetrical morphology in planform. Hypothesis tests relating to the geomorphological characteristics of these alluvial fans were conducted on a dataset of 63 fluvial-dominated fans. A significant relationship existed between fan asymmetry and the direction of axial river flow, which was attributed to two factors supported by examples: (1) axial rivers have a propensity to trim the toes on the up-valley sides of fans; and (2) axial river channels are deflected across the broad valley floors, which allows the profiles on the down-valley sides of fans to be longer than on the up-valley sides. However, an asymmetrical planform morphology does not lead to a significant bias in the spatial distribution of surface streams towards the up-valley sides of fans, which typically have shorter profiles from apex to boundary. If the asymmetry in fan morphology is preserved in the sedimentary record, then the interpretation of fan deposits that developed in broad valleys and that interacted with axial rivers would be improved by understanding this modern analogue.

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