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How do subduction zones control surface hazard and landscape evolution?​

Subduction-zone processes play a central role in shaping the land- and sea-scapes along convergent plate margins. Storms and earthquake-shaking mobilize rocks, sediment and soil, which are continuously transported seaward by the ebb and flow of flooding rivers and offshore currents. Catastrophic and punctuated erosional pulses across land- and sea-scapes can initiate complicated responses and continuous adjustments that persist for years or even decades following the events that precipitated the geomorphic cascade. Slope failures from volcanic sector collapse, earthquake land-level changes, and storms can all dam river channels, leading to continuous adjustments in response to changes in sediment supply, or outburst floods that rapidly alter river channel morphology – both of which can impact downstream communities. The generation of large volumes of detritus from subduction-zone disturbances can modify river networks for decades to years, changing both their forms and processes in ways that may produce more frequent flooding and promote channel widening.  Faulting and folding of rock lying within the region between the subduction trench and the volcanic arc can build topography and produce earthquakes, whose proximity to humans and their enterprises makes them especially potent hazards.

Understanding these disturbances and their cascading impacts have enormous practical importance because they pose substantial risks to the ecosystems, communities, and infrastructure within subduction-zone land- and sea-scapes. Despite this, we still lack understanding of the controls on the amount of subduction-zone convergence that is taken up between the trench and arc, when catastrophic surface disturbances might be initiated, where the detritus produced by these events might go, and how long and far the cascading impacts that are produced by these disturbances might extend.

L&S Overarching Question

How do subduction zones control surface hazard and landscape evolution?​

The L&S component of SZ4D has identified two research questions and related hypotheses that leverage this suite of new observational technologies, computational capabilities, and model developments. Addressing these questions

will enhance progress toward reaching the goals of the SZ4D FEC and MDE working groups, and provide a framework for interdisciplinary research that will lead to transformative advances in subduction zone science.

L&S Science Questions

  • How do events within Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and solid Earth generate and transport sediment across subduction zone landscapes and seascapes?

  • What fraction of a subduction zone’s energy budget goes into building and shaping subduction zone landscapes and seascapes?

L&S Science Questions

From the Implementation Plan

Download the L&S section of the SZ4D Implementation Plan

From the Implementation Plan

Working Group Members

German Aguilar
Universidad de Chile
Alejandra Serey
University of Higgins
Vashan Wright
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Lucia Sagripanti
IDEAN, Argentina
Kristin Sweeney
University of Portland
Jeff Beeson
Oregon State University
Noah Finnegan*
UC Santa Cruz
Sean Gallen
Colorado State University
Rachel Glade
University of Rochester
Jenna Hill
US Geological Survey
Karl Lang
Georgia Tech
Gen Li
UC Santa Barbara
Risa Madoff
University of North Dakota
Claire Masteller
Washington University in St Louis
Kristin Morell*
UC Santa Barbara
Nora Nieminski
US Geological Survey
Tania Villaseñor
Universidad de O'Higgins
Brian Yanites*
Indiana University
Ivo Fustos-Toribio
Universidad of La Frontera
Adam Forte
Louisiana State University
Behrooz Ferdowsi
University of Houston
Cristian Escauriaza
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Julia Carr
Simon Fraser University
Adam Booth
Portland State University
Felipe Aron
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

*Group Co-Chairs

L&S Group Members

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