Landscape Diffusion Lab
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Students create a STELLA model of two marine terrace platforms separated in elevation by a cliff. They use the hillslope flux equation to simulate the change in the cliff face over time as diffusive processes tear it down. This modeling project is based on a problem of great geomorphological interest: how landscapes evolve over time in response to processes such as raindrop impacts, the annual cycle of freeze-thaw, tree throw, and the action of burrowing animals. All of these diffusive processes act to move soils and sediments from topographic high points to low points.
Context for Use
This activity was developed for a class introducing dynamical systems modeling to upper level undergraduate students.
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
Instructor Notes.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB Apr10 06)
scarp_diffusion_answer_key.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 59kB Jun13 05)
References and Resources
The following are readings for this lab activity:
- Anderson, R.S., and Humphrey, N.F., 1989, Interaction of weathering and transport processes in the evolution of arid landscapes, in Cross, T.A. (ed.), Quantitative Dynamic Stratigraphy, New York: Prentice Hall, p. 349-361.
- Rosenbloom, N.A., and Anderson, R.S., 1994, Hillslope and channel evolution in a marine terraced landscape, Santa Cruz, California, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 99, p. 14,013-14,029.