Skip to main content
Slope, Grain Size, and Roughness Controls on Dry Sediment Transport and Storage on Steep Hillslopes
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
  • Roman A. DiBiase, Pennsylvania State University
  • Michael P. Lamb, California Institute of Technology
  • Vamsi Ganti, Imperial College London
  • Adam M. Booth, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Slopes (Soil mechanics),
  • Sediment transport,
  • Structural geology,
  • Sedimentology
Existing hillslope sediment transport models developed for low-relief, soil-mantled landscapes are poorly suited to explain the coupling between steep rocky hillslopes and headwater channels. Here we address this knowledge gap using a series of field and numerical experiments to inform a particle-based model of sediment transport by dry ravel—a mechanism of granular transport characteristic of steep hillslopes. We find that particle travel distance increases as a function of the ratio of particle diameter to fine-scale (1m) topographic variability associated with rocky landscapes. Applying a 2-D dry-ravel-routing model to lidar-derived surface topography, we show how spatial patterns of local and nonlocal transport control connectivity between hillslopes and steep headwater channels that generate debris flows through failure of ravel-filled channels following wildfire. Our results corroborate field observations of a patchy transition from soil-mantled to bedrock landscapes and suggest that there is a dynamic interplay between sediment storage, roughness, grain sorting, and transport even on hillslopes that well exceed the angle of repose.

This is the publisher's final PDF. Reproduced here with permission. Originally published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface and is copyrighted by American Geophysical Union.

Persistent Identifier
Citation Information
DiBiase, R. A., M. P. Lamb, V. Ganti, and A. M. Booth (2017), Slope, grain size, and roughness controls on dry sediment transport and storage on steep hillslopes, J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf., 122, 941–960, doi:10.1002/ 2016JF003970.