Modelling centennial sediment waves in an eroding landscape – catchment complexity

J.M. Schoorl, A.J.A.M. Temme, A. Veldkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Sediment flux dynamics in fluvial systems have often been related to changes in external drivers of topography, climate or land cover. It is well known that these dynamics are non-linear. Recently, model simulations of fluvial activity and landscape evolution have suggested that self-organization in landscapes can also cause internal complexity in the sedimentary record. In this contribution one particular case of self-organization is explored in the Sabinal field study area, Spain, where several dynamic zones of sedimentation and incision are observed along the current river bed. Whether these zones can be caused by internal complexity was tested with landscape evolution model (LEM) LAPSUS (Landscape Process Modelling at Multi-dimensions and Scales). During various 500¿year simulations, zones of sedimentation appear to move upstream and downstream in eroding river channels (‘waves’). These waves are visualized and characterized for a range of model settings under constant external forcing, and the self-organizing process behind their occurrence is analysed. Results indicate that this process is not necessarily related to simplifications in the model and is more generic than the process of bed-armouring that has recently been recognized as a cause for complexity in LEM simulations. We conclude that autogenic sediment waves are the result of the spatial propagation in time of feedbacks in local transport limited (deposition) and detachment limited (erosion) conditions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1526-1537
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • self-organized criticality
  • soil redistribution
  • late pleistocene
  • fluvial systems
  • dem resolution
  • evolution
  • geomorphology
  • climate
  • level
  • basin


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