Sensitivity analysis of pediment development through numerical simulation and selected geospatial query

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Dozens of references recognizing pediment landforms in widely varying lithologic, climatic, and tectonic settings suggest a ubiquity in pediment forming processes on mountain piedmonts worldwide. Previous modeling work illustrates the development of a unique range in arid/semiarid piedmont slope (< 0.2 or 11.3°) and regolith thickness (2-4 m) that defines pediments, despite varying the initial conditions and domain characteristics (initial regolith thickness, slope, distance from basin to crest, topographic perturbations, and boundary conditions) and process rates (fluvial sediment transport efficiency and weathering rates). This paper expands upon the sensitivity analysis through numerical simulation of pediment development in the presence of spatially varying rock type, various base level histories, various styles of sediment transport, and various rainfall rates to determine how pediment development might be restricted in certain environments. This work suggests that in landscapes characterized by soil and vegetation types that favor incisive fluvial sediment transport styles coupled with incisive base level conditions, pediment development will be disrupted by the roughening of sediment mantled surfaces, thereby creating spatial variability in topography, regolith thickness, and bedrock weathering rates. Base level incision rates that exceed the integrated sediment flux along a hillslope derived from upslope weathering and sediment transport on the order of 10- 3 m y- 1 restrict pediment development by fostering piedmont incision and/or wholesale removal (stripping) of regolith mantles prior to footslope pediment development. Simulations illustrate an insensitivity to alternating layers of sandstone and shale 3-15 m thick oriented in various geometric configurations (vertical, horizontal, and dip-slope) and generating different regolith hydrologic properties and exhibiting weathering rate variations up to 3-fold. Higher fluxes and residence times of subsurface groundwater in more humid environments, as well as dissolution-type weathering, lead to a thickening of regolith mantles on erosional piedmonts on the order of 101 m and an elimination of pediment morphology. An initial test of the model sensitivity analysis in arid/semiarid environments, for which field reconnaissance and detailed geomorphic mapping indicate the presence of pediments controlled by climatic conditions (soil hydrologic properties, vegetation characteristics, and bedrock weathering style) that are known and constant, supports our modeling results that pediments are more prevalent in hydrologically-open basins. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Strudley, MW; Murray, AB

Published Date

  • August 1, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 88 / 3-4

Start / End Page

  • 329 - 351

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0169-555X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.12.008

Citation Source

  • Scopus