Spatial Patterns of Channel Steepness in the Central Rockies: Do River Profiles Record Landscape Evolution Forcing By Yellowstone Dynamic Topography?

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Eduardo Francisco Guerrero1, Andrew Meigs1, Eric Kirby1 and Patricia M Gregg2, (1)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States, (2)University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States
Numerous investigations demonstrate that mantle convective processes affect the surface topography of the overriding plate. ‘Positive dynamic topography’ refers to the surface expression of mantle upwelling. An advecting wave of dynamic topographic surface uplift plate is thought to result from migration of North America relative to the Yellowstone hotspot. Advection of positive dynamic topography through an overriding plate disturbs the landscape by a combination of a change in surface uplift rate and tilting. Identification of dynamic topography’s contribution to evolution of the greater Yellowstone region’s landscape, however, is complicated by the polygenetic regional topography that results from glaciation, bimodal volcanism, Basin and Range extension, early Cenozoic arc volcanism, and Laramide contraction. Our model, which is parameterized to Yellowstone but doesn’t include climate variations, suggests contribution of the dynamic topography erosional signal should decrease from 0.1mm/yr to 0.5 mm/yr at a 100km radius from the hotspot uplift source. The cosmogenic chronology that we are building to constrain spatial patterns of incision in the Bighorn Basin indicates that there is differential incision occurring in the Bighorn basin. Rates vary from 2.8mm/yr in the western basin, which is closer to Yellowstone to 1.1mm/yr in the eastern basin. Global cooling and its effects at the Plio-Pleistocene transition is thought to be the dominant control on the region’s erosional regime. However, the magnitude of the contribution from Yellowstone dynamic topography to the regional landscape evolution is still unknown because published incision rates lack the resolution to differentiate between incision forcing mechanisms. Bedrock stream profile analysis is powerful tool for determining spatial patterns of surface deformation. We compare results for normalized channel steepness indices across various basins in the Central Rockies and Greater Yellowstone area with existing datasets to determine whether regional steepness patterns are associated with the proposed spatial distribution of dynamic topography.