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Discuss a range of geomorphological techniques we can use to determine the rate and magnitude of slope movement.

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Introduction

"Discuss a range of geomorphological techniques we can use to determine the rate and magnitude of slope movement." To discuss the question, we must first identify what slope movement is. Also known as "mass wasting (sometimes called mass movement) it encompasses a broad array of processes whereby earth material is transported down a slope by the force of gravity. It is related closely to weathering, which is the breakdown of minerals or rocks at or near Earth's surface through physical, chemical, or biological processes, and to erosion, the transport of material through a variety of agents, most of them flowing media, such as air or water" (Gale's science of Everyday Things). Slope movement therefore is movement of the land which has become unstable. Instability of the land can be caused by many environmental and human impacts such as weathering and structural changes to the landscape. The condition of slope movement is that of the gravitational force of the land exceeding the resisting force, thus leading to incipient failure within the slope. This therefore leads to movement. After the initial failure of the slope, movement occurs within the land which maybe significant or unnoticeable depending on the rate of the mass movement. Landslides for instance, are movements of a very high speed thus are very dramatic movements of land, which have immediate and delayed consequences, for the surrounding environment. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, "A GPS device can determine the size and displacement of a landslide by setting the boundary points on the GPS and determining the distance between the" (Reid and LaHusen, 2004), this would be ideal for scientists to measure the slope movement on steeper or larger landslides. The collection of this data must be made immediately after the event, as landslides reinitiate movement thus the initial slope movement and change cannot be recorded. Moreover, the physical measuring of landslides is very important, due to the accurate mapping of topographic maps, which allow the evaluation of slope movement. It also allows the collection of data that shows the volume of change within the environment and compares this to older topographic maps, of the same specified area; thus commenting on the deformation of the landscapes. Furthermore, the surveying of topographic features also comments on how the landscape has altered and the extent of deformation the land has experienced. Once this information has been gathered, structural mapping of an area can be created. This is the process of locations being highlighted, due to faults and folds created the landscape and characteristics of that specified area. Furthermore, Gerald F. Wieczorek states that "reo photography is very important so that the topography can be viewed in three dimensions, making the mapping of landslide more accurate. Colour photography is bene?cial for mapping; false-colour infrared photography can emphasise the contrast between landslides and non-landslide topography", thus allowing a simple judgement to be made of ...read more.

Conclusion

Another method in determining the magnitude and change of slope movement is that of analysing the geologic materials. When analysing the type of bedrock and other rocks left in the wake of slope movement, geologists are able to recognise the magnitude of the slope movement due to the type of rock left behind and exposed. If there is a large landslide for instance, a lot more bedrock will be uncovered thus this is an obvious indication of a slope movement with high magnitude. If there is little or no bedrock exposed and the rock that is upon the slope is just debri, this therefore means there was a lack of movement thus a slope movement of low magnitude. Furthermore, the analysis of geomorphic thresholds would allow for information to be collected on slope movement. A Geomorphological threshold is the amount of movement a landform can take before the land faults and leads to incipient failure creating new landforms or moving the already existing landform. It is the point at which the landform becomes unstable. With this identified the movement or scale of movement can be identified using the catastrophe theory and the visualisation of new landforms. In conclusion, slope movement and magnitude of this movement can be measured and determined in many different ways. Techniques involving technology are the most astute in comparing and contrasting slope movement and the magnitude of this movement. However, the physical measuring of the slope movement highlights and determines ultimately the statue of the slope movement. ...read more.

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