Hillslope Processes in Temperate Environments

Schlunegger, Fritz; Norton, Kevin; Caduff, Rafael (2013). Hillslope Processes in Temperate Environments. In: Shroder, John F. (ed.) Treatise on Geomorphology. Mountain and Hillslope Geomorphology: Vol. 7 (pp. 337-354). San Diego: Academic Press 10.1016/B978-0-12-374739-6.00183-4

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In this chapter, we discuss the factors controlling the mechanisms and rates of hillslope failure in temperate environments with a major focus on the Swiss Alps. We frame this presentation by defining Alpine hillslopes as either strength- or transport-limited hillslopes. We organize this discussion into individual sections that outline how hillslope processes are related to (1) the mechanical strength and bedding orientation of bedrock, (2) the competition between channelized and hillslope processes, (3) hillslope–channel coupling relationships, and (4) fluvial erosion rates. We find that hillslope angles depend on bedrock strength along nonincised channels, but are not related to this parameter in inner gorges. We also find that valley flanks host deep-seated landslides where the bedrock dips parallel to the topographic slope. In the opposite case, the valley sides are dissected by a network of bedrock channels bordered by strength-limited hillslopes. In this chapter, we illustrate that a high ratio between sediment discharge on hillslopes and in channels explains the formation of smooth landscapes with low channel densities and long response times. This chapter considers the formation of strength-limited hillslopes as a consequence of an upslope-directed coupling between channels and hillslopes. The chapter also discusses that soil-mantled hillslopes occur where fluvial incision rates are less than weathering rates of bedrock, which are limited to 0.1–0.3 mm yr−1. We finally present evidence for a decreasing trend of hillslope-derived sediment discharge during the Holocene, but predict an opposite trend in the nearest future as winters are warmer and wetter.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Schlunegger, Fritz, Norton, Kevin, Caduff, Rafael


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Mountain and Hillslope Geomorphology


Academic Press




Fritz Schlunegger

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2014 10:58

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:31

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Alpine landscape, Channels, Connectivity, Debris flows, Hillslope diffusion, Hillslopes, Landscape evolution, Landslides, Limits on sediment transport, Lithology and hillslopes, Strength-limited hillslopes, Surface erosion, Temporate environments, Transient landscapes





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