Alluvial fans can preserve historical records of sediment transport to middle and lower river systems or piedmont basins, which are considered to be sensitive recorders of climate change and tectonic activity. In this paper, the morphological characteristics, control factors and future development trend of alluvial fan are summarized and described. The main understanding is as follows:
According to the gravity flow and traction flow process, fan can be divided into debris flow alluvial fan and fluvial fan. The former is formed under the action of debris gravity flow deposits, which is related to the occasional flood and burst flow in a short time. The latter is braided tributaries depositions which are gradually shallower and spread radially in the direction of fan toe under the traction water transport.
The erodibility of underlying bedrock can affect the scale of downstream alluvial fan, which depends on the sediment production and store factors in the catchment. The easily eroded bedrock may produce more sediment, making the alluvial fan area larger. In the contrast, the erodibility of rocks in the source area can also affect the slope and hydrological characteristics of the valley so that more sediment is deposited in the upstream basin and the alluvial fan formed in the downstream is smaller.
Tectonic activity is the pre-condition for the development of alluvial fans, which provides a space for alluvial fans depositions. Faulting in the piedmont can change the position and morphology of the ancient alluvial fan, and also cause deformation or distortion of the thick sedimentary sequence to record the regional tectonic activity. The quaternary alluvial fan sequence corresponds well to the climate change during the glacial-interglacial period. However, the influence of the flood events caused by extreme meteorological events on alluvial fan deposition should be focused on.
The application of a series of new techniques and methods will help to carry out deep research on alluvial fan in the future, such as high-resolution observation technique, physical simulation experiment, and precise dating.