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Knickpoints and hillslope failures: Interactions in a steady-state experimental landscape

By
Alessandro Bigi
Alessandro Bigi
Department of Agricultural Economics and Engineering, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 50, I-40127 Bologna, Italy
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Leslie E. Hasbargen
Leslie E. Hasbargen
Department of Geology, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19713, USA
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Alberto Montanari
Alberto Montanari
Faculty of Engineering, University of Bologna, Via del Risorgimento 2, I-40136 Bologna, Italy
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Chris Paola
Chris Paola
Department of Geology and Geophysics and St. Anthony Falls Lab, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2006

Hillslope stability depends strongly on local conditions, such as lithology and rock strength, degree of saturation, and critical slope angle. Common triggers for slope failure include severe storms, earthquakes, and removal of material from the toe of the hillslope. In this paper, we focus on the latter, in a model in which streams incise the toe and destabilize the hillslope. We investigate possible interactions between migrating knickpoints and hillslope failures in a small-scale, steadily eroding experimental landscape that experiences steady rainfall and base-level fall conditions. We monitored knickpoint propagation and hillslope failure activity with time lapse photography over a time period in which numerous knickpoints migrated through the drainage basin. We then investigated temporal and spatial relationships between hillslope failures and knickpoints and compared these results to Monte Carlo simulations of hillslope failure distributions. When focusing along a single channel, we found that, statistically (significant at the 98% confidence level), a greater number of failures occur downstream from a migrating knickpoint. These results highlight both the organized and random nature of hillslope and knickpoint interactions.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Tectonics, Climate, and Landscape Evolution

Sean D. Willett
Sean D. Willett
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Niels Hovius
Niels Hovius
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Mark T. Brandon
Mark T. Brandon
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Donald M. Fisher
Donald M. Fisher
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Geological Society of America
Volume
398
ISBN print:
9780813723983
Publication date:
January 01, 2006

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