Advances in Earth Science ›› 2007, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (1): 17-25. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2007.01.0017

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Concept and Attribute of Morphosphere and Its Relationship with other Spheres of Earth’s Surface

CHEN Zhi-ming 1,D.A. Timofeyev 2,V.V. Brongulefev 2,HUANG Zhen-guo 4,LIN Jun-shu 3,LI Guo-sheng 3,XU Nai-huang 1,SHI Shao-hua 1,LIU Xiao-mei 1,CAI Fu-xiang 4,ZHANG Wei-qiang 4   

  1. 1.Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing  210008,China;2.Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moskow 109017; 3.Institute of Geography Sciences & Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences;4.Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou  510070,China
  • Received:2006-06-13 Revised:2006-12-31 Online:2007-01-10 Published:2007-01-10

CHEN Zhi-ming,D.A. Timofeyev,V.V. Brongulefev,HUANG Zhen-guo,LIN Jun-shu,et al. Concept and Attribute of Morphosphere and Its Relationship with other Spheres of Earth’s Surface[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2007, 22(1): 17-25.

The paper, taking Asia and its neighbouring oceans as an example, demonstrates the objectiveness of morphosphere and its continuity of the globe by discussing the modern concept of origin of morphosphere and its four attributes, the shape, matter, movement and evolution of the morphosphere. Finally, the relationship between morphosphere and other spheres of Earth's surface, and the effects of the study on the development of geoscience and its applications are discussed.
As to Modern Concept of Morphospheric Genesis, till now there are at least two different views: 1) morphosphere is molded down to the last minutiae by exogenous processes[8]; 2) the causes of endogenous and exogenous forces change with the variety of scales and levels. For example, high-level geotecture or morphotectonics and middle-level morphostruture are mainly molded by endogenous forces, while low-level morphosculture are mainly molded by exogenous forces[10~13,3,4]. The latter view obviously tallies with actual situations. Therefore, the term “morphosphere” or “geomorphic sphere” is better for the representation of geomorphologic sphere than “ relief sphere”.
Morphospheric Shape & matter attributes: From a static view, morphosphere includes two attributes: shape and matter. The former refers to multi-level three dimensional space of terrestrial form. It forms the base of natural landscape, and is an audio-visual characteristic. However, because it lacks the function for the direct display of the cause, it is not the core of geomorphic research. The latter refers to the rocks, debris and crust of weathering. It makes existence of isopotential gravitational field of morphological entities with different elevation[11].From a point of view, although these matters are common in terrestrial solid spheres, the purposes and degrees of the study in geology, geomorphology and pedology are different. In geomorphology, in denudation area, the geomorphic entities refer to crust of weathering with a depth of several meters to scores of meters (in some situation, even a hundred meters or so), and those rock structures concerning the interior of morphological entities. The latter usually concerns scores of meters to a thousand meters, and in largely cut areas, even several thousand meters, which therefore makes it different from the crust with a depth of scores of kilometres in geology and the lithosphere with a depth of 1 to 2 hundred kilometres.
Morphospheric Motion & Evolution Attributes: First, motion of morphological matter refers to transportation process of matters, derived from denudation and weathering and transported by surface run-off. Second, it includes gravitational slide, caused by the difference of terrestrial elevation, and relate to all kinds of thin-skinned structure and sub-plate moving along the low speed layer or the slipping surface in cover and middle upper crust. As pointed out in the paper, gravitational slide and thin-skinned structure are the morphotectonics, which cut off the link between the root of geomorphic entities and the main lithosphere. For inquiring about the characteristic of morphosphere moving, the paper make first interpretation by the modern concept of lithosphere layering structure to the origin that velocity of crust movement recorded by GPS in Western Pacific Islands and Indian Peninsula[34~36] are obviously less than the velocity of plate moving relative to hot-spot frame[37]. It is a clear manifestation of the differential motion bet. morphosphere (sub-plate of middle upper crust) and the main lithosphere; Moreover, mass facts indicate that a lot of morphotectonics developed before neotectonic period . According to the study by L.C. King (1967) in Africa and Australia, the oldest relics in the existing landscape developed in Jurassic Period[38]. Some ancient continents such as India and Antarctic separated from Gondwana since then should have similar situation. While in North Hemisphere, the oldest relief in former Soviet Union developed in J3 to k1, the minority of them are T3 relics[39,40]. Therefore, Mezo-Cenosoic Eras are the geologic time of existent relief developed[7,18,39], and alternation of generation is the core of geomorphic study[8]. 
Interaction bet. Morphosphere & Other Spheres of Earth’s Surface: Morphosphere exists bet. Litho- sphere and atmosphere, and is the sphere of direct contacting with them and the main place where exchange of matter and energy of them, and it is not only the common object of relationship with both of them, but also back action upon them (to see fig.2 & table 1 for detail). By the table of morphosphere and its relationship with other spheres of earth's surface, as well as the figure of energy flow & material flow of geomorphologic system, the paper demonstrates that the geomorphology for own studying object in geomorsphere is a course of studies having profound intension and wide extension, and last appeal to strengthen morphosphere studying that has not only important significance to push forward geosciences, but also quite practical value in improving for the living environment of humankind and promoting continued development forward of national economy.

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