Tectonics from fluvial topography using formal linear inversion: Theory and applications to the Inyo Mountains, California Academic Article uri icon


  • Tectonic activity generates topography, and the variability of tectonic forcing is responsible for topographic patterns and variability of relief in fluvial landscapes. Despite this basic relation, the inverse problem, by which features of the topography are used for inferring tectonic uplift rates, has proven challenging. Here we develop formal linear inversion schemes to infer a record of the rate of relative uplift as a function of space and time from the long profiles of rivers. The relative uplift rate is the difference between the rates of rock uplift and of the base level change. The inversion schemes are based on a closed-form analytic solution to the transient linear stream power model, and to increase model resolution they make use of the multiplicity of information made available by multiple rivers and their tributaries. The distribution of the fluvial response time to tectonic perturbations is a key …

publication date

  • January 1, 2014