Are calanco landforms similar to river basins?

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Abstract

In the past badlands have been often considered as ideal field laboratories for studying landscape evolution because of their geometrical similarity to larger fluvial systems. For a given hydrological process, no scientific proof exists that badlands can be considered a model of river basin prototypes. In this paper the measurements carried out on 45 Sicilian calanchi, a type of badlands that appears as a small-scale hydrographic unit, are used to establish their morphological similarity with river systems whose data are available in the literature. At first the geomorphological similarity is studied by identifying the dimensionless groups, which can assume the same value or a scaled one in a fixed ratio, representing drainage basin shape, stream network and relief properties. Then, for each property, the dimensionless groups are calculated for the investigated calanchi and the river basins and their corresponding scale ratio is evaluated. The applicability of Hack's, Horton's and Melton's laws for establishing similarity criteria is also tested. The developed analysis allows to conclude that a quantitative morphological similarity between calanco landforms and river basins can be established using commonly applied dimensionless groups. In particular, the analysis showed that i) calanchi and river basins have a geometrically similar shape respect to the parameters Rf and Re with a scale factor close to 1, ii) calanchi and river basins are similar respect to the bifurcation and length ratios (λ = 1), iii) for the investigated calanchi the Melton number assumes values less than that (0.694) corresponding to the river case and a scale ratio ranging from 0.52 and 0.78 can be used, iv) calanchi and river basins have similar mean relief ratio values (λ = 1.13) and v) calanchi present active geomorphic processes and therefore fall in a more juvenile stage with respect to river basins.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)244-255
Numero di pagine12
RivistaScience of the Total Environment
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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