This paper presents a mathematical model developed to investigate fully coupled interactions between erosion, deposition, and dynamic three-dimensional deformation within fold belt settings. The mechanical part of the model is an elastic-plastic (thin) plate overlying an inviscid substrate. This plate can be compressed from the side and responds by the development of buckle folds. The surface topography is advected along with the underlying deforming plate and can be modified through time by a combination of fluvial and hillslope sediment transport. The resulting mass redistribution creates loads on the plate which then feed back and influence subsequent deformation, erosion, and deposition. Preliminary results calculated with the model indicate that erosion and deposition have two main effects on deformation: The first is to decrease the amount of shortening required to initiate folding, while the second is to increase the fold wavelength. Both effects result from the ability of erosion and deposition to reduce the influence of gravity on deformation. In the extreme case of efficient erosion and deposition, deformation becomes localized on a single large-scale mega-anticline, as opposed to being distributed on a train of anticlines and synclines. This study indicates that erosion and deposition play a major role in governing the deformation and topography of fold belts and the sediment routing system acting within such a setting.
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