The influence of bedrock orientation on the landscape evolution, surface morphology and denudation (10Be) at the Niesen, Switzerland

Chittenden, Hannah; Delunel, Romain; Schlunegger, Fritz; Akçar, Naki; Kubik, Peter (2014). The influence of bedrock orientation on the landscape evolution, surface morphology and denudation (10Be) at the Niesen, Switzerland. Earth surface processes and landforms, 39(9), pp. 1153-1166. Wiley 10.1002/esp.3511

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Landscape evolution and surface morphology in mountainous settings are a function of the relative importance between sediment transport processes acting on hillslopes and in channels, modulated by climate variables. The Niesen nappe in the Swiss Penninic Prealps presents a unique setting in which opposite facing flanks host basins underlain by identical lithologies, but contrasting litho-tectonic architectures where lithologies either dip parallel to the topographic slope or in the opposite direction (i.e. dip slope and non-dip slope). The north-western facing Diemtigen flank represents such a dip slope situation and is characterized by a gentle topography, low hillslope gradients, poorly dissected channels, and it hosts large landslides. In contrast, the south-eastern facing Frutigen side can be described as non-dip slope flank with deeply incised bedrock channels, high mean hillslope gradients and high relief topography. Results from morphometric analysis reveal that noticeable differences in morphometric parameters can be related to the contrasts in the relative importance of the internal hillslope-channel system between both valley flanks. While the contrasting dip-orientations of the underlying flysch bedrock has promoted hillslope and channelized processes to contrasting extents and particularly the occurrence of large landslides on the dip slope flank, the flank averaged beryllium-10 (10Be)-derived denudation rates are very similar and range between 0.20 and 0.26 mm yr−1. In addition, our denudation rates offer no direct relationship to basin's slope, area, steepness or concavity index, but reveal a positive correlation to mean basin elevation that we interpret as having been controlled by climatically driven factors such as frost-induced processes and orographic precipitation. Our findings illustrate that while the landscape properties in this part of the northern Alpine border can mainly be related to the tectonic architecture of the underlying bedrock, the denudation rates have a strong orographic control through elevation dependent mean annual temperature and precipitation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Exogenous Geology

UniBE Contributor:

Delunel, Romain, Schlunegger, Fritz, Akçar, Naki


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Naki Akçar

Date Deposited:

02 May 2014 15:52

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:31

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

bedrock orientation; landscape development; erosion; morphometry; Swiss Alps




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