River Capture in Disequilibrium Landscapes Academic Article uri icon


  • The process of river piracy or river capture has long drawn interest as a potential mechanism by which drainage basins large and small evolve towards an equilibrium state. River capture transfers both drainage area and drainage lines from one river basin to another, which can cause large, abrupt shifts in network topology, drainage divide positions, and river incision rates. Despite numerous case studies in which river capture has been proposed to have occurred, there is no general, mechanistic framework for understanding the controls on river capture, nor are there quantitative criteria for determining if capture has occurred. Here we use new metrics of landscape disequilibrium to first identify landscapes in which drainage reorganization is occurring. These metrics are based on a balance between an integral of the contributing drainage area and elevation. In an analysis of rivers in the Eastern United Stat...

publication date

  • December 1, 2013