InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Critical Zone Science > Student Materials > Student Materials Unit 3.2
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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These student materials complement the Critical Zone Science Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.

Unit 3.2: Landforms and Remote Sensing

Introduction

In this unit, geomorphic environments and the processes that can move and shape them are explored to learn about the links between landforms, soils, and the Critical Zone. The fundamentals of geomorphology are considered along with a somewhat detailed analysis of fluvial, eolian, glacial/periglacial, karst and coastal landforms and processes. In this unit, you will:

  • comprehend a soil catena and the influence of slope and aspect on pedogenesis
  • distinguish and assess some features and processes characteristic of five generalized geomorphic environments
  • apply knowledge gained to find remotely sensed imagery, specifically aerial photographs, for a study site cleared with your instructor

Unit 3.2: Landforms

Part 1 - Geological Processes

Pre-class
  • Read (individually) Chapter 9 in Birkeland, P. W. (1999). Soils and Geomorphology (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Make sure you understand the idea of a soil catena and (re)consider the effects of topography on the CZ – think about how the feed-through reactor and chemical weathering fluxes might operate in a select study site and how they might vary between nearby environments.
  • Read (groups) the information selected from the 5 landscape categories outlined below: fluvial, eolian, glacial/periglacial, karst and shoreline processes and landforms. Each group will pre-read and report on one of the 5 landscape categories outlined above. The information covered here will set the stage for an in-class discussion as well as for activities in the second day of class in this unit.

Fluvial Landforms and Processes:

  • This site provides a good general overview of fluvial landforms and processes, beginning with the hydrologic cycle and surface runoff. The site then provides a characterization of the parts and types of rivers, drainage patterns, fluvial processes of erosion, deposition, saltation, solution and suspension, and erosional and depositional landforms.
  • This hyperlink overlaps somewhat with the one above. While studying this site, do not concern yourself with the details of specific drainage basins unless they are of interest to you. You can peruse the section on river types and drainage basin patterns for more detail than is available above. Do read the short sections on structure and tectonics, and paleochannels.
  • Good images of stream channel types and features can be viewed by following this hyperlink:
Eolian processes and landforms:

Glacial/periglacial processes and landforms:

Karst processes and landforms:

  • Unique landforms and patterns of drainage called karst or karst topography primarily form in temperate to tropical regions, though they are found in arid and polar regions too. The common feature shared by all karst landscapes is that they are underlain by chemical sedimentary rocks particularly susceptible to dissolution, carbonates and/or evaporites. The landforms result mostly from chemical weathering of the host rock and the progressive integration of subsurface cavities, though collapse into solution cavities can also be important. Karst landscapes are often dominated by underground drainage networks that interrupt and capture surface water flow. Interestingly, a new type of karst, thermokarst, is now studied in high latitude regions subjected to global warming. As permafrost thaws, removing subsurface ice that otherwise provides structural support for the surface, surface environments degrade and collapse in ways quite similar to those observed in classical karts landscapes. For a relatively succinct definition of karst, from the Canadian perspective, follow this hyperlink:
  • Of the karst-forming rocks, the carbonates (dolostone and limestone) are much more abundant than evaporites (mostly deposits of gypsum and anhydrite), therefore karst landscapes are most often found in regions underlain by carbonate rocks. The following Web site will help you learn more about limestone karst, including information on the relationship between lithology, porosity, permeability and karstification, the distribution of karstlands in the United States, the driving mechanics of karst processes, and links between surface water flow, aquifers and groundwater.
    • Lemke (2013) UWSP, Karst Processes (link down)

Shoreline processes and landforms:

In-class

Discussion of reading and presentations

  • Each group will present on the landscape areas and processes.
  • Class discussion focused on:
    • Soil catena
    • Role of topography
    • Characteristic landforms

Part 2 - Remote Sensing Imagery

In-class

National Geo-PhotoFinder Activity

  • Your instructor will introduce you to remote sensing and aerial photography by utilizing a class demonstration and videos. Then you will be introduced to the homework exercise that you will complete after class.

Homework

  • In this exercise you will explore and manipulate EROS resources related to satellite and aerial photography of a wide variety of landscapes introduced above.

Additional Resources

Links found the Geo-PhotoFinder Activity
These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »