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Neogene rejuvenation of central appalachian topography evidence for differential rock uplift from stream profiles and erosion rates

  • The persistence of topography within ancient orogens remains one of the outstanding questions in landscape evolution. In the eastern North American Appalachians, this question is manifest in the outstanding problem of whether topographic relief is in a quasi-equilibrium state, decaying slowly over many millennia, or whether relief has increased during the late Cenozoic. Here we present quantitative geomorphic data from the nonglaciated portion of the Susquehanna River drainage basin that provide insight into these end-member models. Analysis of channel profiles draining upland catchments in the northern Valley and Ridge, Appalachian Plateau, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont provinces reveals that a large number of streams have well defined knickpoints clustered at 300-600 m elevation but not systematically associated with transitions from weak to resistant substrate. Cosmogenic Be-10 inventories of modern stream sediment indicate that erosion rates are spatially variable, ranging from similar to 5-30 m/Myr above knickpoints to similar toThe persistence of topography within ancient orogens remains one of the outstanding questions in landscape evolution. In the eastern North American Appalachians, this question is manifest in the outstanding problem of whether topographic relief is in a quasi-equilibrium state, decaying slowly over many millennia, or whether relief has increased during the late Cenozoic. Here we present quantitative geomorphic data from the nonglaciated portion of the Susquehanna River drainage basin that provide insight into these end-member models. Analysis of channel profiles draining upland catchments in the northern Valley and Ridge, Appalachian Plateau, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont provinces reveals that a large number of streams have well defined knickpoints clustered at 300-600 m elevation but not systematically associated with transitions from weak to resistant substrate. Cosmogenic Be-10 inventories of modern stream sediment indicate that erosion rates are spatially variable, ranging from similar to 5-30 m/Myr above knickpoints to similar to 50-100 m/Myr below knickpoints. Overall, channel gradients, normalized for drainage area, scale linearly with catchment-averaged erosion rates. Collectively, regionally consistent spatial relationships among erosion rate, channel steepness, and knickpoints reveal an ongoing wave of transient channel adjustment to a change in relative base level. Reconstructions of relict channel profiles above knickpoints suggest that higher rates of incision are associated with similar to 100-150 m of relative base level fall that accompanied epierogenic rock uplift rather than a change to a more erosive climate or drainage reorganization. Channel response timescales imply that the onset of relative base level change predates similar to 3.5 Ma and may have begun as early as similar to 15 Ma. We suggest that adjustment of the channel network was likely driven by changes in mantle dynamics along the eastern seaboard of North America during the Neogene.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Scott R. Miller, Peter B. Sak, Eric Kirby, Paul R. Bierman
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2013.04.007
ISSN:0012-821X (print)
ISSN:1385-013X (online)
Parent Title (English):Earth & planetary science letters
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2013
Year of Completion:2013
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:Appalachian Mountains; cosmogenic nuclides; knickpoint; stream profile; transient erosion
Volume:369
Issue:2
Pagenumber:12
First Page:1
Last Page:12
Funder:USGS EDMAP [08HQAG088]; NSF [EAR-310208]; Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; NSF Susquehanna/Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory [EAR-0725019]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert