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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Louise Bracken

Bracken, L.J. & Wainwright, J. Geomorphological equilibrium: myth and metaphor? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2006;31:167-178.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Equilibrium is a central concept in geomorphology. Despite the widespread use of the term, there is a great deal of variability in the ways equilibrium is portrayed and informs practice. Thus, there is confusion concerning the precise meanings and usage of the concept. This confusion has arisen because of the enshrinement of Gilbert's original ideas as a myth that supports a narrow, short-termist, process-based approach to geomorphology that developed following the quantitative revolution, and is furthermore essentially untestable. It may be better to represent equilibrium as a metaphor that underpins many geomorphological concepts and ideas, which are utilized in our everyday practice and which are built upon a relatively narrow, modernist perspective of the discipline.