Finding how Earthquakes And Storms Impact the Building of Landscapes

One of the most challenging unresolved issues in Earth Sciences is to unravel how tectonics, climate and surface processes act and interact to shape the Earth’s surface. The foundations of modern quantitative geomorphology are based on steady-state landscapes responding to slow change in climate or tectonics. This means we assume that any short term changes to landscapes, for example due to a sudden flood, have only temporary effects and the landscape eventually reverts to its “normal” state, calculated as an average position. But what if frequent short disruptions from storms and earthquakes have longer term ability to change our scenery?

The ERC FEASIBLe project aim to develop a new landscape evolution model to unravel how such stresses build or destroy landscapes. It will produce and analyse new high-resolution topographic data revealing the nature of landscapes in Taiwan, New-Zealand and the Himalayas. The research could produce a new approach to assessing earthquake risk based on landscape shape analysis, as well as a way to assess the role of climate warming on the post-glacial evolution of glaciated areas. The project results could also be used to help optimise road and communication networks in risk areas.

The ERC FEASIBLe project, led by Philippe Steer (Université Rennes 1, France), is funded by the European Research Council for the the time period 2019-2024.