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Landscape Dynamics, Erosion and Sedimentation

18 November 2015
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Event type:
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Burlington House, London
Event status:
Ballot Closed

The sedimentary record is fundamentally controlled by sediment routing systems, which transfer sediment from upland source catchments to depositional sinks. Consequently, to decode the stratigraphic archive, we need to understand the behaviour, response, and sensitivity of sediment routing systems to both tectonics and climate. This talk explores how far we have come in addressing this grand challenge.

Alex will examine how geomorphic, sedimentological and numerical modelling techniques can be used to constrain how the earth surface processes are influenced by tectono-climatic boundary conditions, and how they govern the production of stratigraphy. 

Field examples from California and the Mediterranean explore the extent to which we can now quantitatively “invert” stratigraphy for tectonic or climatic forcing, and highlight some of the problems that still remain.


Alex Whittaker

Imperial College

Alex Whittaker read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge between 1998 and 2002, before moving to Edinburgh University to do a PhD in landscape dynamics and neo-tectonics. Following an Entente Cordiale Fellowship at Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, Alex subsequently moved to Imperial College London to work with Philip Allen on sediment routing system dynamics. He was appointed a Lecturer at Imperial in 2010 and subsequently Senior Lecturer in 2014. 

Alex’s research combines field, remote sensing and numerical modelling approaches to constrain how tectonics and climate control the erosion, transport and deposition of sediment over a range of scales, and his group is currently working in areas of active normal faulting in Italy, Greece, Turkey and California. At Imperial he teaches undergraduate structural geology, and he co-ordinates his department’s field programme, leading excursions to the Spanish Pyrenees and the Italian Apennines. 

Alex received the Chorley Medal from the British Society for Geomorphology in 2008 and the President’s Award from the Geological Society in 2009 in recognition of his research contributions.  In 2013 he was awarded the President’s Medal from Imperial College for his field teaching.