Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (1): 94-104.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201701008

• Soil and Surface Processes • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Theories and methods of space-for-time substitution in geomorphology

Xiaoli HUANG1,2,3(), Hu DING1,2,3, Jiaming NA1,2,3, Guo'an TANG1,2,3()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment of Ministry of Education, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base of Geographical Environment Evolution, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2016-07-04 Revised:2016-11-18 Online:2017-01-20 Published:2017-01-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671389, No.41601411


Geomorphic evolution often presents a spatial pattern of a "young to old" distribution under certain natural environment condition, whereby sampling the geomorphic types and characteristics in spatial sequence can provide some evidence for the evolution of the individual geomorphologic object. This so-called space-for-time substitution has been a methodology in geomorphology research. This paper firstly introduced the basic concepts and background of space-for-time substitution, then a full review has been conducted of recent research progress in geomorphic evolution based on space-for-time substitution, such as fluvial landform, structural landform, estuarine landform and coastal landform. Finally, the explicit terms like suitable conditions, influencing factors and classifications have been summarized so that the research paradigm of space-for-time substitution was proposed. We argued that in the future, the researchers should focus on a full use of massive geographic data for geomorphic evolution research at multi-spatial scales, as well as an effective combination with physical mechanisms and statistical laws for a comprehensive geomorphic evolution modelling.

Key words: geomorphology, geomorphic evolution, space-for-time substitution, research paradigm