OPEN Scientific reports | 13 Dec 2017
I Ostanin, A Safonov and I Oseledets
Natural arches, pillars and other exotic sandstone formations have always been attracting attention for their unusual shapes and amazing mechanical balance that leave a strong impression of intelligent design rather than the result of a stochastic process. It has been recently demonstrated that these shapes could have been the result of the negative feedback between stress and erosion that originates in fundamental laws of friction between the rock’s constituent particles. Here we present a deeper analysis of this idea and bridge it with the approaches utilized in shape and topology optimisation. It appears that the processes of natural erosion, driven by stochastic surface forces and Mohr-Coulomb law of dry friction, can be viewed within the framework of local optimisation for minimum elastic strain energy. Our hypothesis is confirmed by numerical simulations of the erosion using the topological-shape optimisation model. Our work contributes to a better understanding of stochastic erosion and feasible landscape formations that could be found on Earth and beyond.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com