Landscape Diffusion Lab

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  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
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This page first made public: May 3, 2006

Summary

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

scarp_diffusion_lab.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 25kB Jun13 05)
scarp_diffusion_v7.STM ( 49kB Jun13 05)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Instructor Notes.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB Apr10 06)

Assessment

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.