Incising rivers may be confined by low-slope, erodible hillslopes or steep, resistant sidewalls. In the latter case, the system forms a canyon. We present a morphodynamic model that includes the essential elements of a canyon incising into a plateau, including 1) abrasion-driven channel incision, 2) migration of a canyon-head knickpoint, 3) sediment feed from an alluvial channel upstream of the knickpoint, and 4) production of sediment by sidewall collapse. We calculate incision in terms of collision of clasts with the bed. We calculate knickpoint migration using a moving-boundary formulation that allows a slope discontinuity where the channel head meets an alluvial plateau feeder channel. Rather than modeling sidewall collapse events, we model long-term behavior using a constant sidewall slope as the channel incises. Our morphodynamic model specifically applies to canyon, rather than river–hillslope evolution. We implement it for Rainbow Canyon, CA. Salient results are as follows: 1) Sediment supply from collapsing canyon sidewalls can be substantially larger than that supplied from the feeder channel on the plateau. 2) For any given quasi-equilibrium canyon bedrock slope, two conjugate slopes are possible for the alluvial channel upstream, with the lower of the two corresponding to a substantially lower knickpoint migration rate and higher preservation potential. 3) Knickpoint migration occurs at a substantially faster time scale than regrading of the bedrock channel itself, underlying the significance of disequilibrium processes. Although implemented for constant climactic conditions, the model warrants extension to long-term climate variation.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 30 2020|
- Canyonc bedrock
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