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Quantitative and process geomorphology

Quantitative and process geomorphology

Part of the Great Escarpment in the Drakensberg, southern Africa. This landscape, with its high altitude plateau being incised into by the steep slopes of the escarpment, was cited by Davis as a classic example of his cycle of erosion. Geomorphology was started to be put on a solid quantitative footing in the middle of the 20th century.

Following the early work of Grove Karl Gilbert around the turn of the 20th century, a group of mainly American natural scientists, geologists and hydraulic engineers including William Walden Rubey, Ralph Alger Bagnold, Hans Albert Einstein, Frank Ahnert, John Hack, Luna Leopold, A. Shields, Thomas Maddock, Arthur Strahler, Stanley Schumm, and Ronald Shreve began to research the form of landscape elements such as rivers and hillslopes by taking systematic, direct, quantitative measurements of aspects of them and investigating the scaling of these measurements.

Some of Research Papers By scientists – India. Sources (https://www.ncess.gov.in/images/cess_images/13-S-Sinha-Roy.pdf , and , http://home.iitk.ac.in/~rsinha/Publication/2012_Current%20Science_GangaReview.pdf )

These methods began to allow prediction of the past and future behaviour of landscapes from present observations and were later to develop into the modern trend of a highly quantitative approach to geomorphic problems. Many groundbreaking and widely cited early geomorphology studies appeared in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, and received only few citations prior to 2000 (they are examples of “sleeping beauties”) when a marked increase in quantitative geomorphology research occurred. Quantitative geomorphology can involve fluid dynamics and solid mechanics, geomorphometry, laboratory studies, field measurements, theoretical work, and full landscape evolution modeling.

These approaches are used to understand weathering and the formation of soils, sediment transport, landscape change, and the interactions between climate, tectonics, erosion, and deposition. In Sweden Filip Hjulström’s doctoral thesis, “The River Fyris” (1935), contained one of the first quantitative studies of geomorphological processes ever published. His students followed in the same vein, making quantitative studies of mass transport (Anders Rapp), fluvial transport (Åke Sundborg), delta deposition (Valter Axelsson), and coastal processes (John O. Norrman). This developed into “the Uppsala School of Physical Geography”.

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