Abstract

East- or west-trending stream valleys that have erosional slopes have been reported to be (1) asymmetrical with the north-facing slopes steeper, (2) asymmetrical with the south-facing slopes steeper, and (3) symmetrical, with both sides of equal mean slope angle. A series of measurements of angles of erosional slopes, taken in three east-trending, low-gradient valleys in the Laramie Range, Wyoming, shows that north-facing slopes there tend to be 4.4forumla° steeper than opposed south-facing slopes; slope angle is further affected by nearness to the channel. In valleys that have channel gradients greater than 6° and greatly differing vegetation density across the valley, measurements of slope angles definitely show valley symmetry. The interpretation given is that unless the channel has been maintained against the base of the north-facing slope by greater slope wash from the south-facing slope, vegetation differences and resulting rates of slope erosion alone do not produce asymmetric valleys. Valley asymmetry that results from a variety of basic causes can be attributed to a single mechanism, asymmetric lateral corrosion by the stream.

Difference in frost action on north-and south-facing valley sides is rejected as a cause of valley asymmetry in the areas studied because (1) the asymmetry is opposite that reported in tundra regions elsewhere, and (2) the degree of asymmetry in two widely separated areas does not reflect differences in the degree of frost activity in the two areas.

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