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Advanced Geomorphometric Approaches for Understanding Mountain Environments

October 05, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Brennan Young
Department of Geography, Texas A&M University

Graduate Student


The relationship between topographic form and surface process, though qualitatively well-­understood, is numerically poorly characterized. Identifying, mapping, and characterizing surface processes using machine visualization and automation demands that topographic forms be formalized in mathematical language and that relationships to the polygenetic heritage of geomorphic form be evaluated in a hierarchical, context-­sensitive manner. Most geomorphometric approaches evaluate the terrain as neighborhoods of grid cells, hypsometric zones, or sets of fuzzy entities and often rely on empirical or arbitrary thresholds. As a result, basic landforms are ill‐defined due to issues of thresholding, site-­specificity, and lack of contextual information. Therefore, we evaluate two prototypical geomorphological entities: peaks and ridge bifurcations. Defining these entities mathematically poses unique challenges because of cultural or regional bias and the necessity to permit natural variability in tandem with strict definitions. Graph theory is evaluated as an analytical framework for characterizing topographic structure, where geomorphological entities serve as nodes in a connected network. The properties of these networks, including number of nodes, average degree, and spatial anisotropy serve as a basis for evaluating topographic structure as it relates to lithology and geologic structure. The topography of the Karakogram Himalaya is evaluated using ShuKle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM v3; 30 m) digital elevation models, because the Karakoram exhibits a broad array of geomorphic forms and processes. Preliminary results distinguish between basic lithologic groups, between glacial and river-­incised valleys, and highlight zones of rapid tectonic uplift and tectonic shear. We demonstrate that contextual information is vital to diagnostically characterizing mountainous terrain and evaluating the spatial scales of geomorphic phenomena.


Brennan Young, MS, is a graduate student in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University, where he studies surficial geologic process using advanced geomorphometric techniques. His bachelor’s degree in Geology is from Utah State University and his master’s in Geology is from the University of Utah. His research interests include geodynamics, planetary geology, geocomputation, GIS and remote sensing.


Dr. Michael Bishop: michael.bishop@tamu.edu


October 5
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Eller O&M Bldg. Rm 807