Mind the gap: modelling event-based and millennial-scale landscape dynamics

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


This research looks at landscape dynamics – erosion and deposition – from two different perspectives: long-term landscape evolution over millennial timescales on the one hand and short-term event-based erosion and deposition at the other hand. For the first, landscape evolution models (LEMs) are often used, which describe landscape forming processes by geomorphic transport laws, usually on annual temporal resolutions. LEM LAPSUS is used in this research to evaluate the landscape dynamics in a study area in south-east Spain: the Guadalentín Basin. The model is calibrated on dated river terrace levels, which show an erosion – deposition – erosion sequence that the model could reproduce. Annual precipitation in this dryland area shows large inter-annual variability and erosion is supposed to be mainly the results of low-frequency, high magnitude rainfall events. Therefore, in this research, landscape dynamics are also assessed using the event-based erosion model OpenLISEM. Eventually, the role of extreme events in long-term landscape evolution are explored by comparing the two models and by incorporating annual rainfall variability into LEM LAPSUS. Another issue that is being addressed in this study is the relative influence of humans as compared to erosion as a natural process. A conceptual model, derived on the basis of dated sediment archives, is tentatively correlated to periods of human impact on the land. Using LAPSUS, the potential influence of historical tillage erosion is simulated, showing that the relatively slow process of tillage erosion added to floodplain aggradation over thousands of years.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Veldkamp, Tom, Promotor
  • Ritsema, Coen, Promotor
  • Schoorl, Jeroen, Co-promotor
Award date9 May 2012
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461732668
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2012


  • geomorphology
  • erosion
  • sedimentation
  • dynamics
  • time scales
  • landscape analysis
  • modeling
  • rivers
  • rain
  • human impact
  • landscape
  • development
  • spain
  • pleistocene
  • holocene


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