Research Press Release

Rapid erosion of a river gorge

Nature Geoscience

August 18, 2014

A river gorge that formed in response to a 1999 earthquake in Taiwan may be eradicated by erosion in as little as 50 years, concludes an article published online in Nature Geoscience. Such fast removal of geological features could make it difficult to interpret the shape of the landscape in terms of tectonic or climatic influences.

Kristen Cook and colleagues mapped the width of the bedrock gorge of the Daan River, in the western foothills of Taiwan, between 2004 and 2010. They found that the gorge is being transformed into a floodplain: it is being eroded from upstream, starting at the point where the broad upstream river channel meets the narrow gorge.

Leonard Sklar notes in an accompanying News and Views article: “The vanishing Daan River gorge provides a rare portrait of a landscape evolving on a human timescale”.


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