Tectonic denudation and topographic development in the Spanish Sierra Nevada
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
The denudation history of the rapidly uplifting western part of the Spanish Sierra Nevada was assessed using apatite fission track (AFT) ages and 10Be analyses of bedrock and fluvial sediments. Major contrasts in the denudation history are recorded within the 27 km2 Rı´o Torrente catchment. Upland areas are characterized by low-relief, low slope angles, and locally the preservation of shallow marine sediments, which have experienced <200 m of erosion in the last 9 Myr. However, AFT age determinations from samples collected close to the marine sediments imply >2 km of denudation since circa 4 Ma. The minimum denudation rates of 0.4 mm yr 1 derived from AFT also contrast with the slow medium-term (104 years) erosion rates (0.044 ± 0.015 mm yr 1) estimated from 10Be measurements at high elevations. The local medium-long-term contrasts in denudation rates within the high Sierra Nevada indicate that much of the unroofing occurs by tectonic denudation on flatlying detachments. In lower elevation parts of the catchment, rapid river incision coupled to rock uplift has produced 1.6 km of relief, implying that the rivers and adjacent hillslopes close to the edge of the orogen are sensitive to normal-fault-driven changes in base level. However, these changes are not transmitted into the low-relief slowly eroding upland areas. Thus the core of the mountain range continues to increase in elevation until the limits of crustal strength are reached and denudation is initiated along planes of structural weakness. We propose that this form of tectonic denudation provides an effective limit to relief in young orogens.
Mac Robertson Travelling Scholarship
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
British Geomorphological Research Group
Copyright © 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Vol. 26, Iss. 3, pp. TC3001 -