Influence of Rock Strength on Landscape Evolution and Sediment Provenance Records

Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Adam M Forte1, Kelin X Whipple1 and Brian Yanites2, (1)Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States, (2)University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, United States
Detrital minerals within the stratigraphic record provide key constraints for a range of geologic problems, including the first order tectonic setting of basins, structural histories within orogens, changes in climate, and major drainage network reorganizations. Numerous provenance techniques exist for linking detrital minerals to their source areas, but the majority of these methods share an underlying assumption that sediment delivered to a basin is a representative sample of the bedrock geology of the source area. Satisfying this assumption requires that sediment production rates, i.e. erosion rates, of a source area are uniform throughout. In detail, erosion rates within a source area vary as a function of patterns of landscape evolution dictated by rock erodibility, climate, and relative uplift rate, thus long-term and transient biasing of sediment provenance records is expected. Biases associated with landscape evolution in response to changes in climate, tectonics, or strength of exposed rock can last 10s Myr. Previous work recognized a potential influence of differential erosion on provenance records, but the relative importance of this effect has proven difficult to quantify with field data. To address this, we are using a modified version of the CHILD landscape evolution model (LEM), which supports numerous lithologies with different erodibilities within a landscape. We perform a sensitivity analysis on the relative influence of rock strength and changes in climate or uplift rate on provenance records. We focus on U-Pb detrital zircon records because these data have seen wide adoption as a provenance tool and the refractory nature of zircon makes them less likely to be influenced by chemical weathering effects that are beyond the scope of this work. We plan to test several scenarios including variations in rock erodibility and temporal changes in climate or uplift rate. We will then use results from the LEM to calculate erosion rates from different lithologies within the landscape and generate synthetic detrital zircon age spectra. We will quantify the potential strength of any biasing effects by comparing the results of models with differing erodibilities or transient changes in climate and uplift to steady-state cases with uniform erodibilities.