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Formation of low-gradient bedrock chutes by dry rockfall on planetary surfaces

Sun, Zhongheng and Ulizio, Thomas P. and Fischer, Jade N. and Levin, Janette N. and Beer, Alexander R. and Dickson, James L. and Lamb, Michael P. (2022) Formation of low-gradient bedrock chutes by dry rockfall on planetary surfaces. Geology, 50 (2). pp. 174-178. ISSN 0091-7613. doi:10.1130/g49286.1.

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Channel-like forms are ubiquitous on steep hillslopes on Earth, Mars, and other planetary bodies. On Earth and Mars, these landforms are commonly attributed to water activity, especially for slopes below the angle of repose (~30°) where dry granular flows are considered ineffective. While the angle of repose characterizes loose sediment stability, it is unclear whether dry rockfall can traverse and erode channels in bedrock or cemented substrates. We used a large-scale experiment to show that bedrock chutes can form spontaneously at low gradients from dry rockfall. Our results, combined with observations of rocky outcrops and boulders on Mars, indicate that rockfall can be an important bedrock degradation process that can produce low-gradient channels in the absence of water.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Sun, Zhongheng0000-0002-6223-2216
Ulizio, Thomas P.0000-0001-9685-2926
Beer, Alexander R.0000-0001-7538-6727
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Additional Information:© 2021 The Authors. Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license. Manuscript received 12 November 2020; Revised manuscript received 4 August 2021; Manuscript accepted 11 August 2021; Published online 20 October 2021. Funding was provided by NASA grant 80NSSC19K1269 to M.P. Lamb. Z. Sun was supported by China Scholarship Council grant 201906410043 and H. Zhu, and A.R. Beer by Swiss National Science Foundation grant P2EZP2_172109. We thank Tim Goudge, Colin Dundas, Susan Conway, and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
China Scholarship Council201906410043
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)P2EZP2_172109
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20211110-233618795
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Official Citation:Zhongheng Sun, Thomas P. Ulizio, Jade N. Fischer, Janette N. Levin, Alexander R. Beer, James L. Dickson, Michael P. Lamb; Formation of low-gradient bedrock chutes by dry rockfall on planetary surfaces. Geology 2021; 50 (2): 174–178. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:111837
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Nov 2021 17:37
Last Modified:01 Feb 2022 18:37

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