Complex and rugged topography induces large variations in erosion and sediment delivery in the headwaters of alpine catchments. An effective connection of hillslopes with the channel network results in highly efficient sediment transfer processes, such as debris flows. In contrast, morphological conditions producing decoupling of hillslopes from channels (e.g. glacial cirques) may exclude large areas of the catchment from sediment delivery to its lower parts. Moreover, an efficient connection between hillslopes and channel network does not always ensure an effective downstream transfer of sediment. Low-slope channel reaches (e.g. in hanging valleys) cause sediment deposition, which often results in changes of the sediment transport processes, typically from debris flow to streamflow with low bedload and suspended load rates. The availability of high-resolution digital terrain models, such as those derived from aerial LiDAR, improves our capability to quantify the topographic controls on sediment connectivity. A geomorphometric index, based on the approach by Borselli et al. (2008), was developed and applied to assess spatial sediment connectivity in two small catchments of the Italian Alps featuring contrasting morphological characteristics. The results of the geomorphometric analysis were checked against field evidences, showing good performance and thus potential usefulness of the index.

Geomorphometric assessment of spatial sediment connectivity in small Alpine catchments

TREVISANI, SEBASTIANO;
2013

Abstract

Complex and rugged topography induces large variations in erosion and sediment delivery in the headwaters of alpine catchments. An effective connection of hillslopes with the channel network results in highly efficient sediment transfer processes, such as debris flows. In contrast, morphological conditions producing decoupling of hillslopes from channels (e.g. glacial cirques) may exclude large areas of the catchment from sediment delivery to its lower parts. Moreover, an efficient connection between hillslopes and channel network does not always ensure an effective downstream transfer of sediment. Low-slope channel reaches (e.g. in hanging valleys) cause sediment deposition, which often results in changes of the sediment transport processes, typically from debris flow to streamflow with low bedload and suspended load rates. The availability of high-resolution digital terrain models, such as those derived from aerial LiDAR, improves our capability to quantify the topographic controls on sediment connectivity. A geomorphometric index, based on the approach by Borselli et al. (2008), was developed and applied to assess spatial sediment connectivity in two small catchments of the Italian Alps featuring contrasting morphological characteristics. The results of the geomorphometric analysis were checked against field evidences, showing good performance and thus potential usefulness of the index.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11578/38695
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