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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  12 Jun 2020

12 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Erosional response of granular material in landscape models

Riccardo Reitano1, Claudio Faccenna1,2, Francesca Funiciello1, Fabio Corbi1,3,4, and Sean D. Willett5 Riccardo Reitano et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze, Laboratory of Experimental Tectonics, Università “Roma Tre”, Rome, 00146, Italy
  • 2Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
  • 3Freie Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 4Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Department of Earth Sciences, ETH-Zürich, Sonneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. Tectonics and erosion/sedimentation are the main processes responsible for shaping the earth surface. The link between these processes has strong influence on the evolution of landscapes. One of the tools we have for investigating coupled process models is analogue modeling. Here we contribute to the utility of this tool by presenting laboratory-scaled analogue models of erosion. We explore the erosional response of different materials to imposed boundary conditions, trying to find the composite material that best mimics the behaviour of the natural prototype. The models recreate conditions in which tectonic uplift is no longer active, but there is an imposed fixed slope. On this slope the erosion is triggered by precipitation and gravity, with the formation of channels in valleys and diffusion on hillslope that are function of the analogue material. Using Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and laser-scan correlation technique, we show model evolution and measure sediment discharge rates. We propose three main components of our analogue material (silica powder, glass microbeads and PVC powder) and we investigate how different proportions of these components affect the model evolution and the development of landscapes. We find that silica powder is the main responsible for creating a realistic landscape in laboratory. Furthermore, we find that varying the concentration of silica powder between 40 wt.% and 50 wt.% (with glass microbeads and PVC powder in the range 35–40 wt.% and 15–20 wt.%, respectively) results in metrics and morphologies that are comparable with those from natural prototypes.

Riccardo Reitano et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Riccardo Reitano et al.

Riccardo Reitano et al.


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Latest update: 20 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Looking into processes that occurs on different time scales that spans over thousand or millions of years is difficult to achieve. This is the case when we try to understand the interaction between tectonics and surface processes. Analogue modelling is an investigating technique that can overcome this limitations. Studying the erosional response of analogue landscape, varying the concentration of components of analogue materials strongly affects the evolution of experimental landscapes.
Looking into processes that occurs on different time scales that spans over thousand or millions...