Erosion Rate Variability due to Tectonic Reorganization of River Networks Conference Paper uri icon


  • Many tectonically active landscapes show disparate erosion rates and geomorphic characteristics. In particular, elevated low-relief landscapes are often interpreted as" relict" and are assumed to reflect pre-uplift tectonic conditions. We argue that tectonic deformation of the Earth's surface induces changes in the river channel network through capture and divide migration. Loss of drainage area leads to lower erosion rate through lower discharge and thus to higher surface uplift rates as erosion fails to keep up with tectonic uplift. The positive feedback of area loss amplifies these variations producing high-elevation, low relief, low erosion-rate branches of a river network that could be misconstrued as relic landscapes. We demonstrate this process through numerical models. Models that include surface strain increase variance of erosion rate as predicted. We test this idea through analysis of river …

publication date

  • January 1, 2015