Eroding dynamic topography


Corresponding author: J. Braun, ISTerre Université de Grenoble 1, CNRS, F-38041 Grenoble, France. (


[1] Geological observations of mantle flow-driven dynamic topography are numerous, especially in the stratigraphy of sedimentary basins; on the contrary, when it leads to subaerial exposure of rocks, dynamic topography must be substantially eroded to leave a noticeable trace in the geological record. Here, we demonstrate that despite its low amplitude and long wavelength and thus very low slopes, dynamic topography is efficiently eroded by fluvial erosion, providing that drainage is strongly perturbed by the mantle flow driven surface uplift. Using simple scaling arguments, as well as a very efficient surface processes model, we show that dynamic topography erodes in direct proportion to its wavelength. We demonstrate that the recent deep erosion experienced in the Colorado Plateau and in central Patagonia is likely to be related to the passage of a wave of dynamic topography generated by mantle upwelling.