Modelling alluvial fan morphology Academic Article uri icon


  • A mathematical model which estimates the scale-independent sediment surface profile of alluvial fans has been developed. This model utilizes a diffusive sediment transport model and an unsteady, radial flow, conservation relationship. These equations are approximately solved assuming a quasi-steady-state closure with appropriate modelling assumptions for two end member fan types: (1) fans where most of the fan surface is depositionally active (denoted here as 'homogeneous') and (2) fans characterized by channelling and sediment sorting processes. The fundamental result for these two fan types is a dimensionless sediment profile relationship which approximates most fan surfaces. The model suggests that the overall dimensionless morphology of alluvial fans is governed more by fundamental diffusion principles in sediment deposition than by individual environmental or basin characteristics. Additionally, this work potentially can be extended to model temporal variation in fan development. Preliminary comparison with alluvial fan profiles is reasonable, indicating that this model provides useful qualitative and quantitative information relating to alluvial fan process and morphology. Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • De Chant, L. J., Pease, P. P., & Tchakerian, V. P.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • De Chant, LJ||Pease, PP||Tchakerian, VP

publication date

  • July 1999