relaxation time

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relaxation time
1. The time taken by a disturbed system to reach equilibrium, or the time taken for the magnitude of some parameter to decrease to about 37% of its initial value. For example, the temperature-dependent relaxation time (τ) of a dielectric is related to the relaxation frequency (fr) such that τ = 1/(2πfr). Physically, it is the time taken for an ionic defect to move within a crystal lattice under the influence of an applied alternating electromagnetic field.

2. In geomorphology, the time taken for a system to become adjusted to a sustained change in the nature and/or intensity of external processes. Such an adjustment normally involves a change in the shape of the land-form or landscape constituting the system. Relaxation times vary. The width of a river channel may adjust in response to an increase in discharge in, perhaps, 10 years, while a glaciated mountain range may require 105–106 years to lose the imprint of ice.

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relaxation time The time taken by a geomorphological system to adjust to a sustained change in the nature and/or intensity of an external process, usually by an alteration in the shape of the land-form or landscape. Relaxation times vary. The width of a river channel may increase within 10 years, possibly triggered by a major flood event, in response to an increased discharge; following a climate change, it may be 105–106 years before a glaciated mountain range loses the imprint of ice.