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The role of road and footpath networks in shaping the relief of middle mountains on the example of the Gorce Mountains (Poland)

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The role of roads and footpaths in middle mountains in Europe is of key significance to present day relief. Dependencies related to the way natural road cuts, also known as hollow ways or sunken lanes, were formed and to their present day evolution are described in this paper. The relationship between land use that includes forest maintenance and the pace of transformation on and around unpaved roads (either dirt or gravel roads) is emphasized, given that the roads are found in the woodland zone. The study area selected was the middle mountain section of the Gorce Mountains. Detailed geomorphological mapping of 382.5 km of roads and paths in the area was performed. Most are dirt roads and footpaths. The mapping procedure consisted of a systematic note-taking method (logbook) and the classification of roads and paths by identifying uniformly shaped segments within them. The density of the road network in the study area was 4.14 km*km−2, which is typical of the Beskidy Range of the Carpathian Mountains in Poland. A total of 1,312 segments of roads and paths were identified using the methodology mentioned above. The segments were classified using a statistical grouping procedure into three groups of segments, where each group included segments that were shaped alike. In order to determine relationships between particular segments of roads and paths, 15 examples of roads were found that in their arrangement followed the pattern of slope catena. In order to determine the present day dynamics of shape transformations occurring within hollow ways, repetitive geodetic measurements were performed at 19 cross-sections between 2004 and 2008. A decrease in depth was observed only in 6 out of 19 cross-sections, which means that accumulation was the principal process shaping local relief and equaled 0.02– 1.98 cm*year−1. The remaining cross sections mostly showed signs of further deepening of hollow ways, progressively cutting into the ground below at an average rate of 0.08–4.13 cm* year−1 due to changes in the intensity of land use.
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Keywords: GORCZANSKI NATIONAL PARK; HOLLOW WAYS (SUNKEN LANES); MIDDLE MOUNTAINS; NATURAL ROAD CUTS; PRESENT-DAY GEOMORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie main volume is a peer-reviewed international journal presenting original contributions of high scientific standard from all fields of geomorphology, encompassing basic research and applied studies. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie (ZfG) invites the submission of original papers from the entire field of geomorphological research, both applied and theoretical. Authors are encouraged to submit their papers to the editor-in-chief. Please peruse the instructions to authors (PDF) before submitting your paper.

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