Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have created a model that predicts the formation of rivers and how they will change direction in the future.
As the displacement of the fault increases, it lengthens river beds and slows down the flow of water. At lower velocities, the river produces less sediment. If sediment builds up, it blocks the path, forcing the water to change course.
This change is happening quickly, and sudden flooding can easily become devastating to nearby settlements.
Over the past few years, geomorphologists have gained a clearer understanding of how these landslides occur in different types of rivers. But identifying long-term patterns remains challenging.
In the new work, the author studied images and maps of the Carrizo Plain and began to test complex models of river runoff and sediment transport using them. The resulting model compares how rivers and active fault lines interact.
The model can also help scientists estimate how quickly the sides of a fault pass each other.