Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Suzanne Anderson

Second Advisor

Robert Anderson

Third Advisor

William Travis

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Abstract

Solifluction, or gradual mass wasting as a result of freeze-thaw cycles, is a periglacial process that can cause significant changes to landscapes in the margins where glaciers once existed (Draebing and Eichel 2017; Matsuoka 2001). Frost creep is a major mechanism of solifluction in which soils heave in the cold season as the water they contain freezes, causing surface-normal expansion. In the spring thaw, the soil settles in a more vertical direction, producing a net downslope movement (Benedict 1970; Matsuoka 2001).

This study aimed to survey the movement of lobe features created by periglacial processes on Niwot Ridge in order to compare the amount of movement occurring at present to rates measured at the same location in the 1960s by Benedict (1970). Additionally, temperature and precipitation data from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) was compiled and analyzed due to the relation between these factors and mass movement through solifluction. It was verified that drone imaging and surface modeling software can be used to observe vertical uplift of the surface due to heave. Furthermore, this study shows that time-lapse cameras can be used to provide temperature and visual data on the presence of snow, ice, and water on surface features throughout the inaccessible cold season on Niwot Ridge. The relevance of this data and its comparison with the data from Benedict (1970) is discussed in terms of potential connotations for climate change as well as the feasibility of measurement of landscapes and small-scale mass movement using remote sensing.

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