Geography 323 -- Geomorphology

the systematic description and analysis of landforms and the processes that create/modify them

an element of the landscape that can be observed in its entirety and has consistence of form

earth surfaces composed of an assemblage of subjectively defined, lesser surfaces

Geomorphic system
a set of related landforms and processes, usually defined in terms of a dominant agent of geomorphic activity (water, gravity, ice, wind, waves, or organisms)


Physical geomorphology
explanatory description, analysis of process mechanics, modelling, geological and engineering oriented

Environmental geomorphology
regional description, geographical, relationship of unique landscapes to environmental variables

Climatic geomorphology
regional landscapes (morphogenic regions) are related to distinctive climates and geomorphic processes

Climatogenetic geomorphology
recognizing successive periods of relief development; explaining historical development of landscapes in terms of past and present processes

Quantitative and process geomorphology
focus on rates and mechanics of contemporary exogenous processes, experimentation, and the evolving modern landscape

Theoretical geomorphology
mathematical expression of processes; deduction of form and landscape evolution from physical principles


the physical and chemical properties of rocks and sediments, the geological framework, determines resistance to forces generated by geomorphic agents

a distinctive mechanism for the transfer of rock and sediment, and thereby the creation of modification of landforms; represent a force acting on the landscape (work) in response to the availability of energy (solar, gravitational, molecular and geothermal)

the interval over which driving and resisting forces interact to alter the landscape to a definable extent (stage)

Frequency and magnitude of geomorphic processes
which processes do the most work, high frequency/low magnitude (quasi-continuous) or low frequency/high magnitude (discrete, episodic); uniformitarianism versus catastrophism

Geomorphic thresholds
limits of equilibrium states, the landscape does not yield continuously and stresses do not act continuously

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