Modeling Earth Surface Dynamics from Source to Sink

Matthew Wolinsky, University of Minnesota

The National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics (NCED) is a multi-institute initiative bringing together geoscientists, engineers, and biologists in an effort to understand the diverse channel systems that serve as the arterial network of Earth’s “Critical Zone”. On continental scales these channel systems (e.g. terrestrial rivers, submarine canyons) link together to transport sediment from high mountain source areas to deep marine sink areas. In this talk I will discuss ongoing efforts to synthesize NCED research into a model of coupled landscape, seascape, and stratigraphic evolution extending along the entire the source to sink profile, spanning scales from a single sediment grain up to continents.

I will first give an overview of the underlying conceptual and mathematical framework. Then I will present preliminary results of a prototype model, focusing on the dynamics of moving boundaries which connect different sedimentary environments (e.g. the shoreline) Finally I will discuss models of gravel-sand fronts which form in depositional river systems. In the course of the talk I will also outline a new mixed-language software tool, the Dynamic Stratigraphy Toolbox, which enables surprisingly efficient simulation of complex sedimentary systems using Matlab.

Abstract Author(s): Matthew Wolinsky