Abstract

The evolution of a fluvial landscape is a balance between tectonic uplift, fluvial erosion, and sediment deposition. The erosion term can be expressed according to the stream power model, stating that fluvial incision is proportional to powers of river slope and discharge. The deposition term can be expressed as proportional to the sediment flux divided by a transport length. This length can be defined as the water flux times a scaling factor ζ. This factor exerts a major control on the river dynamics, on the spacing between sedimentary bedforms, or on the overall landscape erosional behavior. Yet, this factor is difficult to measure either in the lab or in the field. Here, we propose a new formulation for the deposition term based on a dimensionless coefficient, G, which can be estimated at the scale of a landscape from the slopes of rivers at the transition between a catchment and its fan. We estimate this deposition coefficient from 29 experimental catchment–alluvial fan systems and 68 natural examples. Based on our data set, we support the idea of Davy and Lague (2009) that G is a relevant parameter to characterize the erosional and transport mode of a fluvial landscape, which can be field calibrated, with a continuum from detachment-limited (G = 0) to transport-limited behavior (G >0.4 from the studied examples).

You do not currently have access to this article.