Tectonic control on 10Be-derived erosion rates in the Garhwal Himalaya, India

Authors

  • Dirk Scherler,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    2. Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
    • Corresponding author: D. Scherler, Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. (scherler@caltech.edu)

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  • Bodo Bookhagen,

    1. Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA
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  • Manfred R. Strecker

    1. Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
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Abstract

[1] Erosion in the Himalaya is responsible for one of the greatest mass redistributions on Earth and has fueled models of feedback loops between climate and tectonics. Although the general trends of erosion across the Himalaya are reasonably well known, the relative importance of factors controlling erosion is less well constrained. Here we present 25 10Be-derived catchment-averaged erosion rates from the Yamuna catchment in the Garhwal Himalaya, northern India. Tributary erosion rates range between ~0.1 and 0.5 mm yr−1 in the Lesser Himalaya and ~1 and 2 mm yr−1 in the High Himalaya, despite uniform hillslope angles. The erosion-rate data correlate with catchment-averaged values of 5 km radius relief, channel steepness indices, and specific stream power but to varying degrees of nonlinearity. Similar nonlinear relationships and coefficients of determination suggest that topographic steepness is the major control on the spatial variability of erosion and that twofold to threefold differences in annual runoff are of minor importance in this area. Instead, the spatial distribution of erosion in the study area is consistent with a tectonic model in which the rock uplift pattern is largely controlled by the shortening rate and the geometry of the Main Himalayan Thrust fault (MHT). Our data support a shallow dip of the MHT underneath the Lesser Himalaya, followed by a midcrustal ramp underneath the High Himalaya, as indicated by geophysical data. Finally, analysis of sample results from larger main stem rivers indicates significant variability of 10Be-derived erosion rates, possibly related to nonproportional sediment supply from different tributaries and incomplete mixing in main stem channels.

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