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Evolution of Active Landscapes

STGL members study how landforms reflect the rates and modes of erosive processes over time, ranging from tectonically active mountain belts to quiescent regions responding to base-level adjustment.

The Colorado River system and its tributaries serves as a unique opportunity to explore how fluvial erosion and structure interact in an arid environment. Our work focuses on the history of the Colorado Plateau itself as well as how the Plateau can be used as a natural laboratory for understanding the development of drainage networks in bedrock-erosive landscapes. This includes both timing and rates of fluvial incision in addition to the processes which control drainage initiation on dipping surfaces.

We are investigating the linkages between lithology, weathering and the form of soil mantled topographies. In particular we seek to understand 1) if lithologic variations are expressed in the form of hillslopes and 2) if weathering of poorly consolidated rocks can increase the erosional resistance of materials exposed at earth’s surface. This study utilizes field observations and measurements, numerical modelling, and high resolution topographic data with a focus on the Gabilan Mesa, a location that previous studies have utilized as an ideal soil mantled landscape.

By pairing geomorphic mapping with topographic analysis in locations with unique or quantifiable tectonic histories we are able to gain insight into the relationships between erosional processes and topographic growth.
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