Arid geomorphology: emerging research themes and new frontiers

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-287
Number of pages37
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Volume33
Issue number2
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2009
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Abstract

Research conducted at the interfaces between traditionally disparate academic disciplines can provide fresh perspectives that catalyse novel research approaches and themes. With particular reference to publications from the last few years, this report focuses on a selection of emerging research themes that highlight the growing links between arid geomorphology and other disciplines, including ecology and soil science, sedimentology and petroleum geology, and planetary science. Three themes are addressed: (1) the role of fire in arid geomorphological systems, characterized by investigations that tend to focus on surface processes and landforms at relatively small spatial scales (plot to short channel reach) and short timescales (hours to years); (2) arid fluvial sedimentary systems, characterized by investigations that commonly focus on processes, landforms and sedimentary products at larger spatial scales (channel reach to basin) and longer timescales (years to millions of years); and (3) arid geomorphology on Mars, commonly characterized by process-landform investigations at very large spatial scales (entire physiographic regions to full planetary contexts) and yet longer timescales (millions to billions of years). For each theme, research gaps are identified, which provides an indication of where the research frontier currently lies. In particular, geomorphological research on Mars and other planetary bodies represents a new physical and intellectual frontier that offers great potential for further interplay with Earth landscape studies in arid and other climatic regions. While there are concerns about the present health and direction of geomorphology and physical geography, this rich diversity of themes provides evidence for vigorous and focused research in arid geomorphology.