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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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doi:10.5194/esurf-2016-55
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
08 Nov 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Assessment of structural sediment connectivity within catchments: insights from graph theory
Étienne Cossart and Mathieu Fressard Université de Lyon (Jean Moulin, Lyon 3), UMR 5600 CNRS – Environnement Ville Société, Lyon, 69007, France
Abstract. To understand the sedimentary signal delivered at catchment outlets, many authors now refer to the concept of connectivity. In this framework, the sedimentary signal is seen as an emergent organization of local filiations and interactions. The challenge is then to open black boxes that remain within a sediment cascade, that requires both accurate geomorphic investigations in the field (reconstruction of sequences of geomorphic evolution, description of sediment pathways) but also the development of tools dedicated to sediment cascades modelling. More precisely the development of tools dedicated to the study of connectivity in geomorphology is still in progress, even if the graph theory offers promising perspectives (Heckmann and Schwanghart, 2013). In this paper, graph theory is applied to abstract the network structure of sediment cascades, keeping only nodes (sediment sources, sediment stores, outlet) and links (linkage by a transportation agent), represented as vertices and edges. From the description of the assemblages of sedimentary flows, we provide three main indices to explore how small-scale processes may result in significant broad-scale geomorphic patterns. First, we assess the potential contribution of each node to the sediment delivery at the outlet. Second, we measure the influence of each node regarding how this node is accessible from both sediment sources and outlet. Third, we calculate a connectivity index to reveal whether the potential contribution of a node is lower or higher than expected from its location within the network. These indices are calculated in the case of a virtual sediment cascade, but are also applied to a catchment located in southern french alps. We demonstrate that these indices are robust, and may lead to simulations. In the present case, we try to predict how a sediment cascade may be impacted by a node disruption or by a reconnection.

Citation: Cossart, É. and Fressard, M.: Assessment of structural sediment connectivity within catchments: insights from graph theory, Earth Surf. Dynam. Discuss., doi:10.5194/esurf-2016-55, in review, 2016.
Étienne Cossart and Mathieu Fressard
Étienne Cossart and Mathieu Fressard
Étienne Cossart and Mathieu Fressard

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Short summary
An assessment of connectivity will help at describing coupling patterns, scale dependence of erosional processes, to understand and predict how policies at catchment scale may supply sediments to the river system (dismantlement of hydraulic infrastructures, changes in terms of land use, etc.).
An assessment of connectivity will help at describing coupling patterns, scale dependence of...
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