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Modeling mountain building, numerical trade off between erosion law and crustal rheology

Abstract : Coupling between erosion and tectonics is thought to play a determinant role in orogenic evolution. Here, we investigate the interplay in this coupling between the assumed erosion law and the crustal rheology at the margin of a collisional plateau, like the Himalaya of Central Nepal. Lithospheric deformation is calculated over a time scale of 100 kyr by a 2D finite element model that incorporates the rheological layering of the crust and the main features of the convergence across the range. For the upper boundary condition, two surface processes were tested: a linear diffusion model and a 1D1/2 integrative model including fluvial incision along the fluvial network and hillslope erosion by landsliding. Model results and their sensitivity to the chosen combinations of erosion law and crustal properties are discussed in light of the constraining geologic and geomorphologic observations. In contrast with the conclusions of Cattin and Avouac [2000] , where a compliant quartz-rich crustal rheology and diffusion law were required, we combine a composite quartz-diabase rheology for the crust with fluvial incision erosion law to account for erosion and elevation profiles across the Himalaya of Central Nepal. More generally, it is proposed that, because of the interplay between the dominant denudation conditions and the rheology of the crust, both well documented erosion rates and processes can provide significant constraints on crustal properties within an active orogen.
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Vincent Godard, Rodolphe Cattin, Jérôme Lavé. Modeling mountain building, numerical trade off between erosion law and crustal rheology. Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union, 2004, 31 (23), pp.L23607. ⟨10.1029/2004GL021006⟩. ⟨hal-00788697⟩

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