Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 1279–1300, 2021
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 1279–1300, 2021

Research article 20 Sep 2021

Research article | 20 Sep 2021

Hilltop curvature as a proxy for erosion rate: wavelets enable rapid computation and reveal systematic underestimation

William T. Struble and Joshua J. Roering

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Cited articles

Almond, P., Roering, J., and Hales, T. C.: Using soil residence time to delineate spatial and temporal patterns of transient landscape response, J. Geophys. Res., 112, F03S17,, 2007. 
Andrews, D. J. and Bucknam, R. C.: Fitting degradation of shoreline scarps by a nonlinear diffusion model, J. Geophys. Res., 92, 12857–12867,, 1987. 
Audet, P.: Toward mapping the effective elastic thickness of planetary lithospheres from a spherical wavelet analysis of gravity and topography, Phys. Earth Planet. In., 226, 48–82,, 2014. 
Balco, G., Stone, J. O., Lifton, N. A., and Dunai, T. J.: A complete and easily accessible means of calculating surface exposure ages or erosion rates from 10Be and 26Al measurements, Quat. Geochronol., 3, 174–195,, 2008. 
Balco, G., Finnegan, N., Gendaszek, A., Stone, J. O., and Thompson, N.: Erosional response to northward-propagating crustal thickening in the coastal ranges of the US Pacific Northwest. Am. J. Sci., 313, 790–806, 2013. 
Short summary
We used a mathematical technique known as a wavelet transform to calculate the curvature of hilltops in western Oregon, which we used to estimate erosion rate. We find that this technique operates over 1000 times faster than other techniques and produces accurate erosion rates. We additionally built artificial hillslopes to test the accuracy of curvature measurement methods. We find that at fast erosion rates, curvature is underestimated, raising questions of measurement accuracy elsewhere.