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River loads and modern denudation of the Alps - a review

Hinderer, Matthias and Kastowski, M. and Kamelger, A. and Bartolini, C. and Schlunegger, Fritz (2013):
River loads and modern denudation of the Alps - a review.
In: Earth-Science Reviews, Elsevier, pp. 11-44, 118, [Online-Edition: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825213...],
[Article]

Abstract

This paper presents the first comprehensive analysis of sediment and dissolved load across an entire mountain range. We investigate patterns and rates of modern denudation of the European Alps based on a compilation of data about river loads and reservoir sedimentation from 202 drainage basins that are between ca. 1 to 10,000 km2 large. The study basins cover about 50% of the total area of the Alps. Modern glaciated basins have the highest sediment yields of up to 7000 t km− 2 a− 1, which are on average 5 to 10 times higher than in non-glaciated basins. Likewise sediment yield and glacial cover are positively correlated. Instead, relief is a relatively weak predictor of sediment yield. The strong glacial impact in the correlations is due to glacier recession since the 19th century as well as due to glacial conditioning during repeated Quaternary glaciations which have produced the strong transient state of the Alpine landscape. We suggest that this is the major cause for ca. 3 fold enhanced denudation of the western compared to the eastern Alps. Chemical denudation rates are highest in the external Alps dominated by carbonate sedimentary rocks, where they make up about one third of total denudation. The high rates cannot be explained without anhydrite dissolution. We estimated that only 45% of the sediments mobilized in headwaters are exported out off the Alps, most sediments being trapped in artificial reservoirs. The total amount of sediment annually trapped within the Alps equates to 43 Mt. When corrected for sediment storage, we obtain an area-weighted mean total denudation rate for the Alps of about 0.32 mm a− 1. The pre-dam rate might be as high as 0.42 mm a− 1. In total, ca. 35 plus 23 Mt of mass are exported each year out of the Alps as solids and solutes, respectively. These rates are not enough to out pace modern rock uplift. Nevertheless, pattern of sediment yield across the Alps coincides roughly with the intensity of glacial conditioning and modern rock uplift, supporting the hypothesis of an erosion-driven uplift of the Alps.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2013
Creators: Hinderer, Matthias and Kastowski, M. and Kamelger, A. and Bartolini, C. and Schlunegger, Fritz
Title: River loads and modern denudation of the Alps - a review
Language: English
Abstract:

This paper presents the first comprehensive analysis of sediment and dissolved load across an entire mountain range. We investigate patterns and rates of modern denudation of the European Alps based on a compilation of data about river loads and reservoir sedimentation from 202 drainage basins that are between ca. 1 to 10,000 km2 large. The study basins cover about 50% of the total area of the Alps. Modern glaciated basins have the highest sediment yields of up to 7000 t km− 2 a− 1, which are on average 5 to 10 times higher than in non-glaciated basins. Likewise sediment yield and glacial cover are positively correlated. Instead, relief is a relatively weak predictor of sediment yield. The strong glacial impact in the correlations is due to glacier recession since the 19th century as well as due to glacial conditioning during repeated Quaternary glaciations which have produced the strong transient state of the Alpine landscape. We suggest that this is the major cause for ca. 3 fold enhanced denudation of the western compared to the eastern Alps. Chemical denudation rates are highest in the external Alps dominated by carbonate sedimentary rocks, where they make up about one third of total denudation. The high rates cannot be explained without anhydrite dissolution. We estimated that only 45% of the sediments mobilized in headwaters are exported out off the Alps, most sediments being trapped in artificial reservoirs. The total amount of sediment annually trapped within the Alps equates to 43 Mt. When corrected for sediment storage, we obtain an area-weighted mean total denudation rate for the Alps of about 0.32 mm a− 1. The pre-dam rate might be as high as 0.42 mm a− 1. In total, ca. 35 plus 23 Mt of mass are exported each year out of the Alps as solids and solutes, respectively. These rates are not enough to out pace modern rock uplift. Nevertheless, pattern of sediment yield across the Alps coincides roughly with the intensity of glacial conditioning and modern rock uplift, supporting the hypothesis of an erosion-driven uplift of the Alps.

Journal or Publication Title: Earth-Science Reviews
Volume: 118
Publisher: Elsevier
Divisions: 11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences
11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences > Earth Science
11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences > Earth Science > Applied Sedimentary Geology
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2015 11:28
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825213...
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