Sediment Connectivity in Proglacial Areas

  • Marco CavalliEmail author
  • Tobias Heckmann
  • Lorenzo Marchi
Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)


Sediment connectivity is an emerging property of geomorphic systems and has become a key issue in research on geomorphic processes and sediment cascades. Sediment connectivity represents coupling relationships between system compartments and elementary units, and thus its understanding has important implications for the behaviour of hydro-geomorphic systems. The investigation and characterization of sediment connectivity and its evolution through time are of particular importance in proglacial areas and high-mountain environments since they are subject to intense morphodynamics and frequent changes in their structure and subsequent variations in sediment connectivity. This chapter aims to review the state of the art of sediment connectivity in proglacial and high-mountain environments studies, provides a synopsis of the most widespread landforms in mountain headwater catchments and describes their role with respect to coarse sediment connectivity. In addition, a section of the chapter is dedicated to the description of a recently developed topography-based sediment connectivity index. An example application to two contrasting alpine glacier forefields shows the effectiveness of this index for investigating and interpreting spatial patterns of connectivity in high-mountain catchments. Finally, we sketch avenues for future research regarding sediment connectivity (not only) in proglacial systems.


Sediment connectivity Geomorphic coupling Sensitivity Connectivity index Sediment delivery ratio 



Work on this chapter was supported by the COST action ES1306 CONNECTEUR ( that provided funding for meetings and a training school on sediment connectivity, which is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Cavalli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias Heckmann
    • 2
  • Lorenzo Marchi
    • 1
  1. 1.CNR IRPIPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Physical GeographyCatholic University of Eichstätt-IngolstadtEichstättGermany

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