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Self-formed waterfall plunge pools in homogeneous rock

Scheingross, Joel S. and Lo, Daniel Y. and Lamb, Michael P. (2017) Self-formed waterfall plunge pools in homogeneous rock. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (1). pp. 200-208. ISSN 0094-8276.

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Waterfalls are ubiquitous, and their upstream propagation can set the pace of landscape evolution, yet no experimental studies have examined waterfall plunge pool erosion in homogeneous rock. We performed laboratory experiments, using synthetic foam as a bedrock simulant, to produce self-formed waterfall plunge pools via particle impact abrasion. Plunge pool vertical incision exceeded lateral erosion by approximately tenfold until pools deepened to the point that the supplied sediment could not be evacuated and deposition armored the pool bedrock floor. Lateral erosion of plunge pool sidewalls continued after sediment deposition, but primarily at the downstream pool wall, which might lead to undermining of the plunge pool lip, sediment evacuation, and continued vertical pool floor incision in natural streams. Undercutting of the upstream pool wall was absent, and our results suggest that vertical drilling of successive plunge pools is a more efficient waterfall retreat mechanism than the classic model of headwall undercutting and collapse in homogeneous rock.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Scheingross, Joel S.0000-0002-7220-8084
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Additional Information:© 2016 American Geophysical Union. Received 25 OCT 2016; Accepted 29 NOV 2016; Accepted article online 4 DEC 2016; Published online 13 JAN 2017. Experimental data are tabulated in the supporting information; additional data are available from J.S.S. Brian Fuller and Conor O'Toole assisted with experiments. We thank Jeff Prancevic, Roman DiBiase, Florent Gimbert, and Jens Turowski for discussion and Edwin Baynes and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments. We acknowledge National Science Foundation funding via EAR-1147381 to M.P.L. and a Graduate Research Fellowship to J.S.S., NASA funding via 12PGG120107 to M.P.L., and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to J.S.S. The Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program partially supported D.Y.L.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Alexander von Humboldt FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:waterfalls; plunge pool erosion; bedrock erosion; knickpoint retreat; river incision; landscape evolution
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170317-080801187
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Official Citation:Scheingross, J. S., D. Y. Lo, and M. P. Lamb (2017), Self-formed waterfall plunge pools in homogeneous rock, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 200–208, doi:10.1002/2016GL071730
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:75194
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Mar 2017 14:40
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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