June 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

“Consciously or unconsciously we seek order out of chaos.  We tend to look for patterns which seem to make sense in the knowledge that we have about our world, as well as being aesthetically satisfying of each part to the whole…..Pattern recognition is important to help us understand and relate to the world around us. ….How we perceive and understand patterns also depends very much on what we are looking for and why.” – Simon Bell

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Folded sediments

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“Humans have been making patterns from time immemorial, as decoration, as symbols or for religious purposes. Some patterns can be connected with certain cultures whilst others are more universal. People, by their settlements, fields, roads, village layouts and towns have subconsciously evolved the landscape to suit their purposes, although they may not have been fully aware of the patterns being created.

Pattern recognition is important to help us understand and relate to the world around us. We can develop a language of description and analysis to communicate relationships between different patterns, the processes that change the landscape and our aesthetic and emotional responses to them. How we perceive and understand patterns also depends very much on what we are looking for and why. For example, a cultural geographer, a farmer, a forester, a physical planner, an ecologist, an explorer or an army general are likely to describe the pattern of a landscape, based on their own knowledge, experiences and what it provides for them. However, whilst they are all describing the same landscape, containing patterns made from the same components, each person may perceive them rather differently. It is often helpful to compare such descriptions to see what can he deduced from them. If there are sonic fundamental components and arrangements common to each description then such factors are likely to have a degree of significance. They may he valued for their importance in explaining the pattern, in controlling processes and function, or in giving distinctiveness and a sense of unity to the area. As such they might be used elsewhere, as patterns, in the sense of templates or models, especially for restoring damaged landscapes and for planning and designing landscape change. ” – Simon Bell

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“While many of the basic pattern types can be applied to large scale landscapes, there are also many examples where this fails or else the occurence is restricted to certain scales.  For example, unlike meanders, the spiral is not found in vegetative  patterns; rivers obviously show branching and meandering; explosions can be seen in the spreading patterns of forest fires and volcanoes.

Landscapes are usually not so clear in their patterns because they comprise many layers of components. Often the identification of the essence of patterns needs a careful search because they are intricately woven together, due to the interaction of the processes at work. For example, it is possible to consider landscapes as complexes of networks and mosaics. The networks are patterns of linear features, such as the meandering and branching systems that run through and between the elements that produce the mosaics. ” – Simon Bell, Landscape: Pattern, Perception, and Process

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geologic rock patterns Oregon coast

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Tilted sedimentary strata are revealed by erosional patterns

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“Pattern type is also determined by flow dynamics, such as turbulence and eddies, now associated with chaos theory, which also develops structures such as spiralling or meandering forms…..

Spirals come in various forms depending on the relationship between the length of the radius extension and the angle it makes with the positive directional axis…..Spirals occur frequently in nature because they represent an efficient method of filling space using a single element.  The processes that lead to spirals or helixes are however, quite varied.  An important process is regular spurts of growth according to seasonal or other periodic impulses.  The chambered nautilus grows according to lunar cycles while some trees, such as many conifers, exhibiting a helical form, grow a set of branches and leading shoot extensions once a season and turn their branch whorls around the stem to expose as much leaf area as possible to the light.” – Simon Bell, Landscape: Pattern, Perception, and Process

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Ancient Tree Rings from American SW

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