Denudation and topographic responses of coastal drainages near the Mendocino Triple Junction region (MTJ), northern California
Friday, 18 December 2015: 10:20
2005 (Moscone West)
Earth’s surface forms by interactions among surface processes, tectonics, climate, and underlying lithology. In an equilibrium landscape where denudation rates equal uplift rates, topography reflects the response of surface processes to spatial variations in uplift rates, climate, and rock erodibility. The Mendocino Triple Junction region (MTJ) in northern California has been investigated as a possible example of a dynamic equilibrium landscape. The region has formed in response to a range in uplift rates that spans an order of magnitude, with highest uplift rates closest to the MTJ. However, no study has explicitly shown that dynamic equilibrium exists between basin-wide denudation and rock uplift rates in the MTJ region. In this study, we measure 10Be- and 26Al-derived denudation rates from coastal drainage basins, and compare them with uplift rates inferred from marine terraces that were formed and preserved by uplift during the last ~305 ka. Denudation rates from a slowly uplifting zone range from 0.2-0.4 mm/yr, which are consistent with rock uplift rates over 305 ka. However, in the northern transition zone and King Range rapid uplift zone, denudation rates are potentially less than recent uplift rates inferred for the past ~72 ka, but close to previous uplift rates from 96-305 ka. This difference is likely related to a lagged response of hillslopes and tributaries to changes in uplift rates, and/or the uncertainties in rate estimates. Topographic analyses based on a high resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) also show potential disequilibrium features in the tributaries and hillslopes within drainage basins near the MTJ. This study suggests that measurements of both denudation and uplift rates are crucial in assessing the equilibrium state of landscapes and in understanding the topographic features made by surface and tectonic processes.