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Bateman M.D.,Sheffield Center for International Drylands Research | Bryant R.G.,Sheffield Center for International Drylands Research | Foster I.D.L.,University of Northampton | Foster I.D.L.,Rhodes University | And 2 more authors.
Geomorphology | Year: 2012

Sand ramps are dune-scale sedimentary accumulations found at mountain fronts and consist of a combination of aeolian sands and the deposits of other geomorphological processes associated with hillslope and fluvial activity. Their complexity and their construction by wind, water and mass movement means that sand ramps potentially hold a very rich store of palaeoenvironmental information. However, before this potential can be realised a full understanding of their formation is necessary. This paper aims to provide a better understanding of the principal factors influencing the development of sand ramps. It reviews the stratigraphic, chronometric and sedimentological evidence relating to the past development of sand ramps, focussing particularly on Soldier Mountain sand ramp in the Mojave Desert, as well as using observations of the modern movement of slope material to elucidate the formation of stone horizons within sand ramps.Findings show that sand ramps cannot easily be interpreted in terms of a simple model of fluctuating palaeoenvironmental phases from aeolian dominated to soil/fluvial dominated episodes. They accumulate quickly (perhaps in <5ka), probably in a single phase before becoming relict. Based on the evidence from Soldier Mountain, they appear strongly controlled by a 'window of opportunity' when sediment supply is plentiful and cease to develop when this sediment supply diminishes and/or the accommodation space is filled up. Contemporary observations of stone movement both on rock and sandy sloping surfaces in the Mojave region indicate movement rates in the order of 0.6 and 11mmyr -1, which is insufficiently fast to explain how stone horizons could have been moved across and been incorporated into sand ramps on multiple occasions. Stone horizons found within the aeolian sediments lack evidence for soil development and are interpreted as very short-term events in which small streams moved and splayed discontinuous stone horizons across the sand ramp surface before aeolian deposition resumed. Surface stone horizons may form by creep from mountain slope sources across sand ramps but require enhanced speed compared to measured rates of runoff creep. We propose the mechanism of fluvio-aeolian creep. Our study suggests that current models of alternating aeolian and colluvial deposition within sand ramps, their palaeoenvironmental significance and indeed how sand ramps are distinguished from other dune forms require amendment. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Ghassemi M.R.,Geological Survey of Iran | Fattahi M.,University of Tehran | Fattahi M.,Sheffield Center for International Drylands Research | Landgraf A.,University of Potsdam | And 3 more authors.
Tectonophysics | Year: 2014

Kinematic interaction of faults is an important issue for detailed seismic hazard assessments in seismically active regions. The Eastern Mosha Fault (EMF) and the North Tehran Fault (NTF) are two major active faults of the southern central Alborz mountains, located in proximity of Tehran (population ~ 9 million). We used field, geomorphological and paleoseismological data to explore the kinematic transition between the faults, and compare their short-term and long-term history of activity. We introduce the Niknamdeh segment of the NTF along which the strike-slip kinematics of EMF is transferred onto the NTF, and which is also responsible for the development of a pull-apart basin between the eastern segments of the NTF. The Ira trench site at the linkage zone between the two faults reveals the history of interaction between rock avalanches, active faulting and sag-pond development. The kinematic continuity between the EMF and NTF requires updating of seismic hazard models for the NTF, the most active fault adjacent to the Tehran Metropolis. Study of offsets of large-scale morphological features along the EMF, and comparison with estimated slip rates along the fault indicates that the EMF has started its left-lateral kinematics between 3.2 and 4.7. Ma. According to our paleoseismological data and the morphology of the nearby EMF and NTF, we suggest minimum and maximum values of about 1.8 and 3.0. mm/year for the left-lateral kinematics on the two faults in their linkage zone, averaged over Holocene time scales. Our study provides a partial interpretation, based on available data, for the fault activity in northeastern Tehran region, which may be completed with studies of other active faults of the region to evaluate a more realistic seismic hazard analysis for this heavily populated major city. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Twyman C.,University of Sheffield | Twyman C.,Sheffield Center for International Drylands Research | Fraser E.D.G.,University of Guelph | Fraser E.D.G.,University of Leeds | And 6 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2011

The literature on drought, livelihoods, and poverty suggests that dryland residents are especially vulnerable to climate change.However, assessing this vulnerability and sharing lessons between dryland communities on how to reduce vulnerability has proven difficult because of multiple definitions of vulnerability, complexities in quantification, and the temporal and spatial variability inherent in dryland agroecological systems.In this closing editorial, we review how we have addressed these challenges through a series of structured, multiscale, and interdisciplinary vulnerability assessment case studies from drylands in West Africa, southern Africa, Mediterranean Europe, Asia, and Latin America.These case studies adopt a common vulnerability framework but employ different approaches to measuring and assessing vulnerability.By comparing methods and results across these cases, we draw out the following key lessons: (1) Our studies show the utility of using consistent conceptual frameworks for vulnerability assessments even when quite different methodological approaches are taken; (2) Utilizing narratives and scenarios to capture the dynamics of dryland agroecological systems shows that vulnerability to climate change may depend more on access to financial, political, and institutional assets than to exposure to environmental change; (3) Our analysis shows that although the results of quantitative models seem authoritative, they may be treated too literally as predictions of the future by policy makers looking for evidence to support different strategies.In conclusion, we acknowledge there is a healthy tension between bottom-up/qualitative/place-based approaches and top-down/quantitative/generalizable approaches, and we encourage researchers from different disciplines with different disciplinary languages, to talk, collaborate, and engage effectively with each other and with stakeholders at all levels. © 2011 by the author(s).

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