IN SITU MEASUREMENT OF BEDROCK EROSION
Keywords: close range photogrammetry, structured light, geomorphology, erosion
Abstract. While long term erosion rates of bedrock material may be estimated by dating methods, current day erosion rates are – if at all available – based on rough estimates or on point measurements. Precise quantification of short term erosion rates are required to improve our understanding of short term processes, for input in landscape evolution models, as well as for studying the mechanics and efficiency of different erosion processes in varying geomorphological settings. Typical current day erosion rates in the European Alps range from sub-millimetre to several millimetres per year depending on the dominant erosion processes. The level of surveying accuracy required for recurring sub-millimetre to millimetre measurements in the field is demanding. A novel surveying setup for in-situ measurement of bedrock erosion was tested recently in three different locations in Switzerland. Natural bedrock was investigated in the Gornera gorge close to Zermatt. Further on, bedrock samples were installed in exposed locations in the Erlenbach research watershed close to Einsiedeln, and in the Illgraben debris flow channel, located in the Canton Schwyz and Valais, respectively. A twofold measurement approach was chosen for all locations. For the first setup control points providing an absolute reference frame for recurrent measurements were embedded close to the area of interest. Close range photogrammetry was applied to measure surface changes on the bedrock samples. The precision for surface measurements in the field was 0.1 mm (1 σ) and thus suitable for the application. The equipment needed for the surveys can easily be carried to the field. At one field site a structured light scanner was used along with the photogrammetric setup. Although the current generation of structured light scanners appeared less suitable for field application, data acquisition was much faster and checking the data for completeness in the field was straight forward. The latest generation of compact structured light scanners will probably be most suitable for similar applications.