Abstract

Landscapes are sculpted by a variety of processes that weather and erode bedrock, converting it into soils and sediments that are moved downslope. Quantifying erosion rates provides important insights into a wide range of questions in disciplines from tectonics and landscape evolution to the impacts of land use. Cosmogenic nuclides contained in quartz sediment provide a robust tool for determining spatially averaged erosion rates across scales ranging from single hillslopes to continental river basins and are providing fundamental clues to how landscapes evolve. Cosmogenic nuclides in buried sediments contain unique information about paleo–erosion rates up to millions of years in the past. This article explores some of the basic ideas behind various methods used to infer catchment-wide erosion rates and highlights recent examples related to problems in tectonics, climate, and land use.

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