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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Alexander Densmore

Schuerch, P., Densmore, A. L., McArdell, B. & Molnar, P. The influence of landsliding on sediment supply and channel change in a steep mountain catchment. Geomorphology. 2006;78:222-235.

Author(s) from Durham


Rates of sediment supply by landsliding to an alluvial channel in a small catchment in central Switzerland were estimated over an 11-month study period. Fluvial sediment transport in the channel is independently monitored at the upstream and downstream ends of the study reach, yielding a unique opportunity to quantitatively compare the volume of sediment supplied to the channel with the volume in fluvial transport. Landslide-derived sediment discharge to the channel was greatest during the winter and spring months, while most of the fluvial sediment transport occurred during short, intense summer storms. Approximately 98 m3 of sediment was delivered directly to the study reach by landsliding, ~80 m3 was transported into the reach from upstream, and ~70 m3 was transported out of the reach. Thus, there was a net accumulation of ~100 m3 of sediment during the 11-month study. Decadal-scale channel aggradation was independently assessed by comparing channel longitudinal profiles in 1993 and 2004. During this 11-year period, a total of ~1500 m3 of sediment has accumulated in the study reach. Aggradation has occurred largely in two broad zones that correspond with both the locations of major landslide complexes and reaches of high channel slope, indicating that hillslope sediment input left an imprint on the morphology of the channel bed that appears to be stable over at least decadal time scales.