Extraterrestrial geomorphology: science and philosophy of Earthlike planetary landscapes

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25 Scopus citations


Newly discovered extraterrestrial landscapes afford an opportunity for adventitious change in the discipline of geomorphology. This opportunity contrasts with the various programs of stipulative change to the discipline initiated over the past century and leading to the present Systems-Process-Functional-Modeling (SPFM) paradigm among Anglo-American geomorphologists. Planetary geomorphology has been largely irrelevant to this paradigm and has found its home almost exclusively within geology. As exemplified by Grove Karl Gilbert's classic 1893 study of the moon's surface, planetary geomorphology affords a remarkable interplay of inference and observation in understanding nature. The balanced approach to scientific understanding, illustrated by Gilbert's work, has been lacking in some of the puzzle-solving exercises of modern SPFM geomorphology. Recent discoveries concerning Mars and Venus illustrate the role of extraterrestrial studies for enhancing the science of Earthlike planets and particularly Earth itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-35
Number of pages27
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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