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The concept of equilibrium emerged in geomorphology once ideas of cata-strophism had been succeeded by the understanding that gradual landforming processes were responsible for the shape of the Earth's surface, and the idea of a ‘balance of nature’ prevailed. This was expressed first through the graded profile of rivers for time-bound studies, and subsequently by the definition of other types of equilibrium such as dynamic, quasi-, metastable and steady state equilibrium, to account for results obtained from observation. The contemporary interpretation is that equilibrium is a significant and useful concept but that it is not universally applicable. There is not necessarily a single or final equilibrium state, and equilibria can be visualized in different ways - including as a metaphor.

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