Manuscript submitted — continental divides

I’ve been out of undergraduate for almost three years now. I’ve finally resubmitted the work I began as an undergraduate at Lehigh with co-author Frank Pazzaglia. We submitted the paper in 2015, but it was ultimately rejected by the editor. While it naturally stung for a while, I think that this was actually a good thing to happen to me, let me explain.

I have spent the past ~1.5 years working with my co-authors to overhaul the manuscript. I’ve largely spent evenings and weekends working on the research, because it isn’t technically my PhD research. It was something of a “hobby” for dorks like me. I had a retrospective moment today and I realized that the manuscript (in my humble opinion) is 100x better than it was when we submitted just over two years ago. The paper is more organized, more quantitative, and more robust in terms of novel results, discussion and implications. I really wish I could just publish it now, but I guess that isn’t really how peer review works…but that’s kind of the point I’m trying to make I think — that is, peer review works. I was frustrated in the moment when my hard work as an undergrad got shot down, but now I see how much better the paper (and by extension me) is because of the rejection.

Anyway, here is a figure from the manuscript that motivates a lot of the paper.

The analysis uses low-pass filtering of topography to isolate the long-wavelength gradients of the landscape. We define a “synthetic” divide along the crest of this long-wavelength topography and explore how offset in the actual (black line above) and synthetic (blue dashed line) correspond with geomorphic, sedimentological, and geodynamic data from two study settings. The above figure shows the North American Rockies region where, curiously, all the major rivers of the region are organized to the long-wavelength topography — said another way, the major rivers all drain radially away from the regional high areas defined by Yellowstone (Y above) and the Colorado Plateau (C above).

This is in fact one of the major results to come out of our research and it has implications for long-term landscape evolution, including continental divide migration, delivery of sediment to margins, and the length scales that control these processes.

Anyway, stay tuned and look for our paper in Basin Research later this year (fingers crossed!).

Andrew J., Moodie, Pazzaglia, Frank J., Berti, Claudio (submitted) Exogenic and autogenic checks on the location and migration of continental divides, Basin Research.