Journal Highlights

Timescales of landscape response to divide migration and drainage capture: Implications for the role of divide mobility in landscape evolution

Editors’ Highlight

River profiles have been used to decipher information about tectonics, climate, and rock properties in mountain regions.  However, recent work has suggested that as landscapes evolve in response to tectonic perturbations, river profiles record changes in basin area and reorganization of the stream network driven by migration of mountain divides, suggesting that river profiles should be used to infer divide mobility and channel capture. This study challenges that view, showing that the effect of divide migration on river profiles depends critically on the rate of channel response relative to the speed of divide migration.  The analysis is important because it provides a framework for assessing the effects of competing controls on river profile form (i.e., tectonics, climate, and rock exposure vs. divide mobility), information that is crucial for correctly inferring process from form (a basic tenet of geomorphology).