09 Mar 2022
09 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Theoretical and numerical considerations of rivers in a tectonically inactive foreland

Stefan Hergarten Stefan Hergarten
  • Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Albertstr. 23B, 79104 Freiburg, Germany

Abstract. Recent advances in the numerics of fluvial landform evolution models allow for large-scale simulations of erosion and sediment transportover time spans of several million years. This study aims at finding out fundamental properties of rivers in a tectonically inactive foreland of a mountain range by investigating a simple reference scenario. This scenario consists of a mountain range and a foreland in a quasi-steady state where the material eroded in the mountain range is routed through the foreland. In order to understand the properties of foreland rivers, a subdivision into two classes – carriers and redistributors – is introduced. Carriers originate in the mountain range and are thus responsible for the large-scale sediment transport to the ocean. In turn,redistributors are rivers whose entire catchment is located in the foreland. Using the concept of carriers and redistributors, it is shown that the drainage network in the foreland permanently reorganizes, so that a steady state in the strict sense is impossible. However, the longitudinal profiles of carriers are described well by a steady-state approximation. Their concavity index is considerably greater than that of rivers in the mountain range. Carriers are predominantly depositing sediment at high rates, while redistributors are eroding at much lower rates. Despite the low erosion rates, the sediment flux from redistributors into carriers is a major component of the overall sediment budget and finally the main driver of the highly dynamic behavior of the carriers.

Stefan Hergarten

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2022-14', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Stefan Hergarten, 25 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2022-14', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Stefan Hergarten, 25 Apr 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on esurf-2022-14', Jean Braun, 20 Apr 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Stefan Hergarten, 25 Apr 2022
  • EC1: 'Comment on esurf-2022-14', Sagy Cohen, 29 Apr 2022

Stefan Hergarten

Model code and software

A simple and efficient model for orographic precipitation: codes and data Hergarten, Stefan and Robl, Jörg

Rivers in a tectonically inactive foreland: codes Stefan Hergarten

Stefan Hergarten


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Short summary
Many studies on modeling landform evolution have focused on mountain ranges, while large parts of Earth's surface are quite flat and alluvial plains have been preferred locations for human settlements. Conducting large-scale simulations of fluvial erosion and sediment transport, this study reveals that rivers in a tectonically inactive foreland are much more dynamic than rivers in a mountain range, where the local redistribution of deposits in the foreland is the main driver of the dynamics.