Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gallinas Peak, or, on the Topographic Asymetry of Mountains

Topographic Signature of life, or ice:

Which is steeper: North Face (ice shaped) vs, South Face (life shaped)?

"Without life, there would still be asymmetric mountains. Rainfall patterns affect the height, width and symmetry of mountains.

Landscapes are shaped by the uplift, deformation and breakdown of bedrock and the erosion, transport and deposition of sediment. Life is important in all of these processes. Over short timescales, the impact of life is quite apparent: rock weathering, soil formation and erosion, slope stability and river dynamics are directly influenced by biotic processes that mediate chemical reactions, dilate soil, disrupt the ground surface and add strength with a weave of roots. Over geologic time, biotic effects are less obvious but equally important: biota affect climate, and climatic conditions dictate the mechanisms and rates of erosion that control topographic evolution. Apart from the obvious influence of humans, does the resulting landscape bear an unmistakable stamp of life? The influence of life on topography is a topic that has remained largely unexplored. Erosion laws that explicitly include biotic effects are needed to explore how intrinsically small-scale biotic processes can influence the form of entire landscapes, and to determine whether these processes create a distinctive topography."

"Precipitation is a fundamental driver of erosional processes and exerts a strong control on ecosystem distributions, suggesting that these precipitation patterns may be important in understanding mountain geomorphology."

Notes: Ponderosa and alligator juniper and pinon, but where are the shrubs, the Ceanothus, the mountain mahogany, the apache plume, the Ribes, not to mention all the riparian sumac, grape, hibiscus, false indigo, etc?

the north facing slopes are steeper and rockier, the south facing have a rock-flour consistency, less vegetated, less lichen on rocks...indicating more erosion, less life

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