Modelling Geomorphic Systems: Scaled Physical Models

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Physical models are scaled representations of a full-scale physical system which can be applied to inform our understanding of geomorphic process-form interactions. Physical and experimental modelling has been used extensively and has been proven to be of critical importance to the geomorphological user. Physical models can be loosely divided into a number of categories: 1:1 replica models; Froude-scaled models; distorted scale models; and analogue 'similarity of process' models. The choice of physical model type is dependent on the researcher's aims and objectives. Advantages include the ability to: (i) isolate variables within a controlled laboratory setting; (ii) incorporate actual physical processes rather than simplifications; (iii) study infrequent or hypothetical scenarios, and; (iv) extract qualitative and quantitative data. Users of physical models must be cautious of the potential shortcomings of using a physical model, such as scale and laboratory effects. Despite these shortcomings, physical models provide a useful technique to observe, visualise and measure process-form interactions. This permits an improved understanding of complex physical relationships which other modelling methodologies may not be able to simulate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeomorphological Techniques
PublisherBritish Society for Geomorphology
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameGeomorphological Techniques
ISSN (Print)2047-0371


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