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Can springs cut canyons into rock?

Lamb, Michael P. and Howard, Alan D. and Johnson, Joel and Whipple, Kelin X. and Dietrich, William E. and Perron, J. Taylor (2006) Can springs cut canyons into rock? Journal of Geophysical Research E, 111 (E7). Art. No. E07002. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/2005JE002663.

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Amphitheater-headed valleys on Earth and Mars are often assumed to result from erosion by emerging spring water (i.e., seepage erosion or groundwater sapping) rather than by surface runoff. The origin of such valleys has implications for landscape evolution on Earth and the hydrologic cycle and associated potential for life on other planets. In this paper we explore the evidence for seepage erosion in bedrock to address whether valley morphology can be used as a diagnostic indicator of seepage erosion. Seepage erosion is an important process in loose sediment where hydraulic forces cause grain detachment, often resulting in amphitheater-headed valleys. However, the extension of these processes to resistant rock is uncertain. In sedimentary rocks, groundwater might control the shape and rate of valley formation. It is possible, however, that seepage plays only a secondary role to runoff processes. This seems likely in basaltic valleys on Earth, where little evidence exists for seepage erosion. Since the ability of seepage to erode bedrock valleys remains unclear and because many amphitheater-headed valleys were probably carved by other processes, seepage erosion should not be inferred based solely on valley form.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Whipple, Kelin X.0000-0002-8430-6925
Additional Information:©2006. American Geophysical Union. Received 13 December 2005; accepted 10 March 2006; published 25 July 2006. Funding was provided by NASA Astrobiology Institute grant to W.E. Dietrich. Thanks to the students of the Spring 2002 MIT class trip who made preliminary measurements of alcove morphology in Utah. We thank D. Pederson and an anonymous reviewer, whose comments improved this paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:amphitheatre; sapping; seepage
Issue or Number:E7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090917-141314972
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Official Citation:Lamb, M. P., A. D. Howard, J. Johnson, K. X. Whipple, W. E. Dietrich, and J. T. Perron (2006), Can springs cut canyons into rock?, J. Geophys. Res., 111, E07002, doi:10.1029/2005JE002663.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:15925
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:02 Oct 2009 23:24
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:23

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