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Landscape evolution (a review)

Sharp, Robert P. (1982) Landscape evolution (a review). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 79 (14). pp. 4477-4486. ISSN 0027-8424.

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Landscapes are created by exogenic and endogenic processes acting along the interface between the lithosphere and the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Various landforms result from the attack of weathering and erosion upon the highly heterogeneous lithospheric surface. Landscapes are dynamic, acutely sensitive to natural and artificial perturbation. Undisturbed, they can evolve through a succession of stages to a plain of low relief. Often, the progression of an erosion cycle is interrupted by tectonic or environmental changes; thus, many landscapes preserve vestiges of earlier cycles useful in reconstructing the recent history of Earth's surface. Landforms are bounded by slopes, so their evolution is best understood through study of slopes and the complex of factors controlling slope character and development. The substrate, biosphere, climatic environment, and erosive processes are principal factors. Creep of the disintegrated substrate and surface wash by water are preeminent. Some slopes attain a quasi-steady form and recede parallel to themselves (backwearing); others become ever gentler with time (downwearing). The lovely convex/rectilinear/concave profile of many debris-mantled slopes reflects an interplay between creep and surface wash. Landscapes of greatest scenic attraction are usually those in which one or two genetic factors have strongly dominated or those perturbed by special events. Nature has been perturbing landscapes for billions of years, so mankind can learn about landscape perturbation from natural examples.

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Additional Information:© 1982 by the National Academy of Sciences. Contributed by Robert P. Sharp, April 8, 1982.
Subject Keywords:slopes; processes; planetary surfaces; controversies; catastrophes
Issue or Number:14
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:SHApnas82
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10394
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 May 2008
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 00:09

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