A combined nonlinear and nonlocal model for topographic evolution in channelized depositional systems

F. Falcini, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, V. Ganti, C. Paola, V. R. Voller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Models for the overall topographic evolution of erosional and depositional systems can be grouped into two broad classes. The first class is local models in which the sediment flux at a point is expressed as a linear or nonlinear function of local hydrogeomorphic measures (e.g., water discharge and slope). The second class is nonlocal models, where the sediment flux at a point is expressed via a weighted average (i.e., convolution integral) of measures upstream and/or downstream of the point of interest. Until now, the nonlinear and nonlocal models have been developed independently. In this study, we develop a unified model for large-scale morphological evolution that combines both nonlinear and nonlocal approaches. With this model, we show that in a depositional system, under piston-style subsidence, the topographic signatures of nonlinearity and nonlocality are identical and that in combination, their influence is additive. Furthermore, unlike either nonlinear or nonlocal models alone, the combined model fits observed fluvial profiles with parameter values that are consistent with theory and independent observations. By contrast, under conditions of steady bypass, the nonlocal and nonlinear components in the combined model have distinctly different signatures. In the absence of nonlocality, a purely nonlinear model always predicts a bypass fluvial profile with a spatially constant slope, while a nonlocal model produces a nonconstant slope, i.e., profile curvature. This result can be used as a test for inferring the presence of nonlocality and for untangling the relative roles of local and nonlocal mechanisms in shaping depositional morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1627
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


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