Geomorphology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The relative role of individual forcing events in long-term landscape evolution is challenging to measure in the field. Badlands offer special opportunities to quantify common, natural landscape dynamics on observational time scales.

    • Ci-Jian Yang
    • , Jens M. Turowski
    •  & Kuo-Jen Chang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The downhill motion of soils on hillslopes is not well understood. Here, the authors present laboratory experiments and show that hillslopes are made perpetually fragile by environmental perturbations that prevent them from stabilizing.

    • Nakul S. Deshpande
    • , David J. Furbish
    •  & Douglas J. Jerolmack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The assessment of soil sustainability in prehistoric times requires comparing millennium-scale erosion rates with geological background rates. Here, the authors apply in situ cosmogenic 14C, 10Be, and 26Al to reveal rapid soil erosion on the Andean Altiplano in response to Late Holocene climate change and the onset of agropastoralism.

    • Kristina Hippe
    • , John D. Jansen
    •  & David Lundbek Egholm
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The configuration of past ice sheets, and therefore sea level, is highly uncertain. Here, the authors provide a global reconstruction of ice sheets for the past 80,000 years that allows to test proxy based sea level reconstructions and helps to reconcile disagreements with sea level changes inferred from models.

    • Evan J. Gowan
    • , Xu Zhang
    •  & Gerrit Lohmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Human activities have accelerated soil erosion and landscape change in many areas. Here the authors show how rates of erosion, sediment transfer and alluvial sedimentation have increased by an order of magnitude across North America since European colonization, far exceeding the rates expected of natural processes.

    • David B. Kemp
    • , Peter M. Sadler
    •  & Veerle Vanacker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Coastal river delta regions are particularly impacted by the effects of climate change, yet though these regions are densely inhabited, robust estimates of population are lacking. Here the authors use global datasets to predict the number of people and regions most threatened by flooding and extreme weather.

    • Douglas A. Edmonds
    • , Rebecca L. Caldwell
    •  & Sacha M. O. Siani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phosphorus is an essential nutrient critical for agriculture, but because it is non-renewable its future availability is threatened. Here the authors show that across the globe most nations have net losses of phosphorus, with soil erosion as the major route of loss in Europe, Africa and South America.

    • Christine Alewell
    • , Bruno Ringeval
    •  & Pasquale Borrelli
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The second extended phase of the Dawn mission provided high resolution observations of Occator crater of the dwarf planet Ceres. Here, the authors show that the central faculae were sourced in an impact-induced melt chamber, with a contribution from the deep brine reservoir, while the Vinalia Faculae were sourced by the deep brine reservoir alone.

    • J. E. C. Scully
    • , P. M. Schenk
    •  & C. T. Russell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Predicted sea-level rise is widely anticipated to lead to increased coastal erosion, however, assessing how rocky coasts will respond to changes in marine conditions is difficult to constrain. Here, the authors find that a North Yorkshire rocky cliff has been eroding at a similar rate over the last 7 kyr, and they do not observe an increase in erosion rates in response to modern sea level rise.

    • Zuzanna M. Swirad
    • , Nick J. Rosser
    •  & John Barlow
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The proliferation of dams since 1950 has promoted sediment deposition in reservoirs, which is thought to be starving the coast of sediment and decreasing resistance to storms and sea-level rise. Here, the authors show that century-long records of sediment mass accumulation rates and sediment accumulation rates more than doubled after 1950 in coastal depocenters around North America.

    • A. B. Rodriguez
    • , B. A. McKee
    •  & A. N. Atencio
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anomalously specular radar reflections (ASRR) from Titan’s tropical region were interpreted earlier as evidence for liquid surfaces, but the Cassini spacecraft did not observe lakes/seas at the anomalously specular locations. Here, the authors show that ASRR originate from one terrain unit, likely paleolakes/paleoseas.

    • Jason D. Hofgartner
    • , Alexander G. Hayes
    •  & Stephen D. Wall
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Northeast Atlantic climate shifted into the Quaternary Ice Age around 2.6 Myr ago. Here, the authors use 3D seismic data from the northern North Sea to document detailed changes in continental-margin sedimentary architecture spanning the transition from a fluvially dominated environment to an icehouse world.

    • H. Løseth
    • , J. A. Dowdeswell
    •  & D. Ottesen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this study, the authors present a global map of rockfalls on the lunar surface and determine impact events as short- and long-term driver for rockfall events.

    • Valentin Tertius Bickel
    • , Jordan Aaron
    •  & Urs Mall
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Landslides are damaging natural hazards and can often lead to unexpected casualties and property damage. Here, the authors conduct geodetic and hydrological data analyses of the Slumgullion landslide, Colorado, and quantify the mass movement to find it fits a power-law flow theory and responds to hydroclimatic variability.

    • Xie Hu
    • , Roland Bürgmann
    •  & Eric J. Fielding
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Using high-resolution orbital imagery of the Martian surface, the authors Salese et al. here describe the first discovered stratigraphic product of multiple extensive fluvial-channel belts in an exposed vertical section at Izola Mensa in the northwestern rim of the Hellas Basin.

    • Francesco Salese
    • , William J. McMahon
    •  & Maarten G. Kleinhans
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Siberian Arctic permafrost contains vast stores of carbon, the fate of which is dependent on the climate. Here the authors use models of future scenarios to show that under the direst climate changes up to 2/3 of the stored organic carbon could thaw.

    • Jan Nitzbon
    • , Sebastian Westermann
    •  & Julia Boike
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Giant rockslides creep slowly for centuries and then can fail catastrophically, posing major threats to society. Here, the authors use observational and experimental evidence to quantitatively capture the full spectrum of giant rockslide behaviour until collapse, that is modulated by hydro-mechanical response to short-term fluid pressure perturbations.

    • Federico Agliardi
    • , Marco M. Scuderi
    •  & Cristiano Collettini
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on November 2018. Here, the authors characterize the surficial geology of the landing site and compare with observations and models derived from remote sensing data prior to landing and from ongoing in situ geophysical investigations of the subsurface.

    • M. Golombek
    • , N. H. Warner
    •  & W. B. Banerdt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glaciers have profoundly shaped Earth’s surface, but glacial erosion models lack a strong empirical basis. Cook et al. have compiled a dataset that illustrates how the speed at which glaciers move controls the rate at which they erode, and that climate is crucial in modulating glacier sliding speed and erosion rates.

    • Simon J. Cook
    • , Darrel A. Swift
    •  & Richard I. Waller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wind changes the surface of the Earth, but the surface characteristics of the planet also impact the winds above it. Here, the authors propose a feedback process in which wind erosion in the western Gobi Desert alters the thermal properties of the surface, which in turn increases near-surface winds.

    • Jordan T. Abell
    • , Alex Pullen
    •  & Gisela Winckler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The occurrence of longitudinal ridges on large landslide masses on planetary bodies is enabled by long runout distances, which have so far been attributed to the presence of ice. The authors here present a challenging model based on mechanical instabilities within the flow, suggesting that ice is not needed.

    • Giulia Magnarini
    • , Thomas M. Mitchell
    •  & Harrison H. Schmitt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Due to active geological resurfacing, the record of large impact basins (e.g. in Chryse Planitia) on Mars seems to be widely absent. Based on high-quality global datasets, the authors here propose a buried impact basin, covered by up to 1 km of sediments or lava flows after its formation more than 4 billion years ago.

    • Lu Pan
    • , Cathy Quantin-Nataf
    •  & Chloé Michaut
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glacier meltwater can penetrate the glacier bed and act as a lubricant, accelerating retreat. Here, the authors use the unique Glacsweb wireless probe at Skálafellsjökull in Iceland and find evidence for two types of stick-slip events: small diurnal events in summer and large multiday events in winter.

    • Jane K. Hart
    • , Kirk Martinez
    •  & David S. Young
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The current paradigm of material transport across the ocean-floor by gravity currents, is of turbulent flows with mixing processes analogous to rivers. However, uniquely high-resolution field data demonstrate that this paradigm is flawed and that gravity currents are analogous to self-organised atmospheric jets.

    • R. M. Dorrell
    • , J. Peakall
    •  & D. Tezcan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    River networks worldwide follow the emblematic Hack’s Law, which expresses the length of a stream as a function of its watershed area. Here the authors show this law does not depend on lithology or rainfall, but on the shape of watersheds and confirms the self-similarity of river networks.

    • Timothée Sassolas-Serrayet
    • , Rodolphe Cattin
    •  & Matthieu Ferry
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Great megathrust earthquakes arise from the sudden release of strain accumulated during centuries of interseismic plate convergence. Here, the authors reconstruct interseismic strain accumulation since the 1960 Chile earthquake, finding a transient evolution at decadal scale with implications for estimating the probability of future events.

    • Daniel Melnick
    • , Shaoyang Li
    •  & Zhiguo Deng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Measuring rivers’ sediment discharge is critical to assess continental erosion and landscape dynamics, yet it remains a challenging task. Here the authors show that GRACE satellite helps quantifying river sediment discharge by measuring the increment in gravitational attraction due to sediment accumulation.

    • Maxime Mouyen
    • , Laurent Longuevergne
    •  & Cécile Robin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soil thickness is a key parameter in earth system models, yet how it varies spatially at catchment scales is largely unknown due to measurement challenges. Here, the authors show that a continuous field of thicknesses can be predicted using high-resolution topography and a few soil thickness measurements.

    • Nicholas R. Patton
    • , Kathleen A. Lohse
    •  & Mark S. Seyfried
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Giant submarine gravity flows are a key mechanism in global sediment transport, yet their properties remain enigmatic. Here, the authors reconstruct the properties of a historic giant submarine gravity flow from deposits across the seafloor.

    • Christopher John Stevenson
    • , Peter Feldens
    •  & David Mosher
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Submarine glacial landforms are used to reconstruct the Holocene retreat dynamics and stability of Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland. Here, a large grounding-zone wedge at the mouth of Petermann fjord indicates a period of glacier stability, with final retreat likely driven by marine ice cliff instability.

    • Martin Jakobsson
    • , Kelly A. Hogan
    •  & Christian Stranne
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Multiple complex tectonic and climatic processes have formed the Andes, which today provides a unique ecological niche. Here, Scott et al. investigate how the chemical composition of lavas from stratovolcanoes can be used to give insight on the uplift of the Andes over the last 200 million years.

    • Erin M. Scott
    • , Mark B. Allen
    •  & Mihai N. Ducea
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The contribution of surface processes to the long-term evolution of plateau surfaces on high-latitude passive margins is poorly understood. Here, the authors show that recent glacial erosion on plateaus in western Scandinavia was widespread and may have contributed substantially to the sediment flux to the oceans.

    • Jane L. Andersen
    • , David L. Egholm
    •  & Sheng Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Thermal triggering of rock exfoliation has long been discounted as relevant to the evolution of rock domes. Here, the authors documented and measured recent fracturing events in California, USA to show that hot summer periods can lead to thermal stresses and cause seemingly spontaneous rock exfoliation.

    • Brian D. Collins
    • , Greg M. Stock
    •  & Joel B. Smith
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Inundation and erosion could make many atoll islands uninhabitable over the next century. Here the authors present an analysis of change in the atoll nation of Tuvalu that shows a 2.9% increase in land area over the past four decades, with 74% of islands increasing in size, despite rising sea levels.

    • Paul S. Kench
    • , Murray R. Ford
    •  & Susan D. Owen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Human activity and related land use change are the primary cause of soil erosion. Here, the authors show the impacts of 21st century global land use change on soil erosion based on an unprecedentedly high resolution global model that provides insights into the mitigating effects of conservation agriculture.

    • Pasquale Borrelli
    • , David A. Robinson
    •  & Panos Panagos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Bronze-age Indus civilisation (4.6–3.9 ka) was thought to have been linked to the development of water resources in the Himalayas. Here, the authors show that along the former course of the Sutlej River the Indus settlements developed along the abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river.

    • Ajit Singh
    • , Kristina J. Thomsen
    •  & Sanjeev Gupta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Projecting the future retreat and thus global sea level contributions of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier is hampered by a poor grasp of what controls flow at the ice base. Here, via high-resolution ice-radar imaging, the authors show diverse landscapes beneath the glacier fundamentally influence ice flow.

    • Robert G. Bingham
    • , David G. Vaughan
    •  & David E. Shean
  • Article
    | Open Access

    River beds often exhibit armouring, in which formation of a coarse surface layer shields the finer underlying grains from erosion. Here, using experiments in a laboratory river and discrete and continuum models, the authors demonstrate that river-bed armouring is driven by vertical granular segregation.

    • Behrooz Ferdowsi
    • , Carlos P. Ortiz
    •  & Douglas J. Jerolmack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Downslope sediment transport on Mars is reported, but the transport capacity of unstable water under low pressures is not well understood. Here, the authors present a newly discovered, highly reactive transportation mechanism that is only possible under low pressure environments.

    • Jan Raack
    • , Susan J. Conway
    •  & Manish R. Patel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Flank instability and lateral collapse are a potential hazard at volcanic edifices. Here, the authors use numerical simulations to show that at Fogo volcano, lateral collapse can trigger a significant deflection of magma pathways in the crust, demonstrating how volcanic edifices may evolve.

    • Francesco Maccaferri
    • , Nicole Richter
    •  & Thomas R. Walter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A paucity of natural archives can make resolving rapid ocean rises induced by ice-sheet collapses during past periods of warming difficult. Here the authors show that systematic and common coralgal terraces record punctuated sea level rise events over decades to centuries during the last deglaciation.

    • Pankaj Khanna
    • , André W. Droxler
    •  & Thomas C. Shirley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The reason some of the Earth’s tidewater glaciers are advancing despite increasing temperatures is not entirely clear. Here, using a numerical model that simulates both ice and sediment dynamics, the authors show that internal dynamics drive glacier variability independent of climate.

    • Douglas Brinkerhoff
    • , Martin Truffer
    •  & Andy Aschwanden