Geomorphic and Fish Genetics Constraints on Late Cenozoic Long Wavelength Topographic Evolution of the Hangay Mountains, Central Mongolia

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Karl W Wegmann1, Mendelson Tamra2, Mark Sabaj Pérez3, Michael Lopresti2, Mary Beth Cole2, John C Gosse4, Stephen G Smith1, Gantulga Bayasgalan1, Leonard D Ancuta5, Kalin T McDannell5 and Sean F Gallen6, (1)North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, Raleigh, NC, United States, (2)University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Biological Sciences, Baltimore, MD, United States, (3)Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, United States, (4)Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada, (5)Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, United States, (6)University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
The Hangay Mountains stand 1.5 - 2 km above adjacent lowlands and the timing and cause of their high elevation is debated. As part of a broad collaborative project, we synthesize several data sets that collectively suggest the Hangay increased in elevation during the mid-to-late Miocene, while topographic relief, one metric commonly associated with active mountain ranges, remained largely unchanged.

The topographic crest of the Hangay forms the drainage divide between the Selenga River and internal drainage of the Mongolian Depression of Lakes (MDL) and northern Gobi. Synthetic drainage divides for the Hangay were created by filtering digital topography in the spectral domain (50 – 200 km wavelengths) using a 2D-FFT function. The co-location of the synthetic and modern divides suggests that the Hangay divide is in a stable, equilibrium configuration. This assumption is corroborated by chi-maps of steady-state river channel elevations that exhibit nearly equal values across water divides. An exception to both of these metrics occurs in the northwest Hangay where the Bulnay fault crosses a low divide between the western Selenga basin and the MDL.

Recent basalt vesicle paleoaltimetry results allow for ~1 km of surface uplift of the central Hangay in the past ~ 10 Ma. These same basalt flows in-filled late Miocene valleys cut into basement with a minimum of 800 m of local relief; similar to the amount of modern, post-glacial relief along the drainage divide. mtDNA analyses from > 250 combined Stone Loaches (Barbatula), Grayling (Thymallus), and Eurasian Dace (Leuciscus) samples from both sides of the continental drainage divide are supportive of Miocene surface uplift. Molecular genetic differences between the loach populations across the divide suggest that they separated from a common ancestor between 20 and 11 Ma. This date is consistent with the timing of surface uplift and valley incision preserved in the Miocene basalt flows. The dace and grayling populations on either side of the divide separated more recently, at ~ 2 Ma and < 1 Ma, respectively. We speculate that either (1) Quaternary climate change via glacial drainage reorganization or (2) drainage capture in response to slip along the Bulnay fault forced these more recent separations. These topo-genetic constrains are needed inputs for regional geodynamic models.