Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (10): 1670-1680.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1684-0

• Review Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Space-for-time substitution in geomorphology: A critical review and conceptual framework

HUANG Xiaoli1,2,3, TANG Guoan1,2,3,*(), ZHU Tongxin4, DING Hu1,2,3, NA Jiaming1,2,3   

  • Received:2018-12-05 Accepted:2019-05-20 Online:2019-10-25 Published:2019-12-09
  • Contact: TANG Guoan
  • About author:Huang Xiaoli, PhD Candidate, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41671389);National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41601411)


Geomorphic evolution often presents a spatial pattern of a “young to old” distribution under certain natural environmental conditions, whereby sampling the geomorphic types and characteristics in spatial sequence can provide evidence for the individual landform evolution and change. This so-called space-for-time substitution has been a methodology in geomorphologic research. This paper firstly introduced the basic concepts and background of the space-for-time substitution, then a full review has been conducted of recent research progress in geomorphic evolution based on the space-for-time substitution, such as fluvial landform, structural landform, estuarine landform and coastal landform. Finally, the basic principle of space-for-time substitution in geomorphology is developed. This review is intended to introduce the achievements of geomorphic evolution research using space-for-time substitution method and to point out the critical research needs to better understand and predict the geomorphic evolution in the future.

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