Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
10 Jun 2022
Research article |  | 10 Jun 2022

An experimental study of drainage network development by surface and subsurface flow in low-gradient landscapes

Brian G. Sockness and Karen B. Gran

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Cited articles

Abotalib, A. Z., Sultan, M., and Elkadiri, R.: Groundwater processes in Saharan Africa: Implications for landscape evolution in arid environments, Earth-Science Rev., 156, 108–136,, 2016. 
Abrams, D. M., Lobkovsky, A. E., Petroff, A. P., Straub, K. M., McElroy, B., Mohrig, D. C., Kudrolli, A., and Rothman, D. H.: Growth laws for channel networks incised by groundwater flow, Nat. Geosci., 2, 193–196,, 2009. 
Altin, T. B. and Altin, B. N.: Development and morphometry of drainage nnetwork in volcanic terrain, Central Anatolia, Turkey, Geomorphology, 125, 485–503,, 2011. 
Babault, J., Van Den Driessche, J., and Teixell, A.: Longitudinal to transverse drainage network evolution in the High Atlas (Morocco): The role of tectonics, Tectonics, 31, 1–15,, 2012. 
Berhanu, M., Petroff, A., Devauchelle, O., Kudrolli, A., and Rothman, D. H.: Shape and dynamics of seepage erosion in a horizontal granular bed, Phys. Rev. E, 86, 1–9,, 2012. 
Short summary
To study channel network development following continental glaciation, we ran small physical experiments where networks slowly expanded into flat surfaces. By changing substrate and rainfall, we altered flow pathways between surface and subsurface. Initially, most channels grew by overland flow. As relief increased, erosion through groundwater sapping occurred, especially in runs with high infiltration and low cohesion, highlighting the importance of groundwater in channel network evolution.