Mountain trail formation and the active walker model

Gilks, S. J. and Hague, J. P. (2009). Mountain trail formation and the active walker model. International Journal of Modern Physics C, 20(6) pp. 869–890.



We extend the active walker model to address the formation of paths on gradients, which have been observed to have a zigzag form. Our extension includes a new rule, which prohibits direct descent or ascent on steep inclines, simulating aversion to falling. Further augmentation of the model stops walkers from changing direction very rapidly as that would likely lead to a fall. The extended model predicts paths with qualitatively similar forms to the observed trails, but only if the terms suppressing sudden direction changes are included. The need to include terms into the model that stop rapid direction change when simulating mountain trails indicates that a similar rule should also be included in the standard active walker model.

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