Matching Items (25)

149828-Thumbnail Image.png

Differential movement across Byrd Glacier, Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica as Indicated by (U-Th)/He thermochronology and geomorphology

Description

The Byrd Glacier region of Antarctica is important for understanding the tectonic development and landscape evolution of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM). This outlet glacier crossing the TAM marks a major discontinuity in the Neoproterozoic-early Paleozoic Ross orogen. The region has

The Byrd Glacier region of Antarctica is important for understanding the tectonic development and landscape evolution of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM). This outlet glacier crossing the TAM marks a major discontinuity in the Neoproterozoic-early Paleozoic Ross orogen. The region has not been geologically mapped in detail, but previous studies have inferred a fault to exist beneath and parallel to the direction of flow of Byrd Glacier. Thermochronologic analysis has never been undertaken across Byrd Glacier, and little is known of the exhumation history of the region. The objectives of this study are to assess possible differential movement across the inferred Byrd Glacier fault, to measure the timing of exhumation, and to gain a better overall understanding of the structural architecture of the TAM. Apatites and zircons separated from rock samples collected from various locations north and south of Byrd Glacier were dated using single-crystal (U- Th)/He analysis. Similar cooling histories were revealed with comparable exhumation rates of 0.03 ± 0.003 and 0.04 ± 0.03 mm/yr north and south of Byrd Glacier from apatite data and somewhat similar rates of 0.06 ± 0.008 and 0.04 ± 0.01 mm/yr north and south of Byrd Glacier from zircon data. Age vs. elevation regressions indicate a vertical offset of 1379 ± 159 m and 4000 ± 3466 m from apatite and zircon data. To assess differential movement, the Kukri Peneplain (a regional unconformity) was utilized as a datum. On-site photographs, Landsat imagery, and Aster Global DEM data were combined to map Kukri Peneplain elevation points north and south of Byrd Glacier. The difference in elevation of the peneplain as projected across Byrd Glacier shows an offset of 1122 ± 4.7 m. This study suggests a model of relatively uniform exhumation followed by fault displacement that uplifted the south side of Byrd Glacier relative to the north side. Combining apatite and zircon (U-Th)/He analysis along with remote geomorphologic analysis has provided an understanding of the differential movement and exhumation history of crustal blocks in the Byrd Glacier region. The results complement thermochronologic and geomorphologic studies elsewhere within the TAM providing more information and a new approach.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

152269-Thumbnail Image.png

The geologic history of central and eastern Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia

Description

Sedimentary basins in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia archive the progression of continental breakup, record regional changes in east African climate and volcanism, and host what are arguably the most important fossiliferous strata for studying early human evolution and innovation. Significant

Sedimentary basins in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia archive the progression of continental breakup, record regional changes in east African climate and volcanism, and host what are arguably the most important fossiliferous strata for studying early human evolution and innovation. Significant changes in rift tectonics, climate, and faunal assemblages occur between 3-2.5 million years ago (Ma), but sediments spanning this time period are sparse. In this dissertation, I present the results of a geologic investigation targeting sediments between 3-2.5 Ma in the central and eastern Ledi Geraru (CLG and ELG) field areas in the lower Awash Valley, using a combination of geologic mapping, stratigraphy, and tephra chemistry and dating. At Gulfaytu in CLG, I mapped the northern-most outcrops of the hominin-bearing Hadar Formation (3.8-2.9 Ma), a 20 m-thick section of flat-lying lacustrine sediments containing 8 new tephras that directly overlie the widespread BKT-2 marker beds (2.95 Ma). Paleolake Hadar persisted after 2.95 Ma, and the presence and characteristics of the Busidima Formation (2.7-0.016 Ma) indicates Gulfaytu was affected by a reversal in depositional basin polarity. Combined with regional and geophysical data, I show the Hadar Formation underlying CLG is >300 m thick, supporting the hypothesis that it was the lower Awash Pliocene depocenter. At ELG, I mapped >300 m of sediments spanning 3.0-2.45 Ma. These sediments coarsen upward and show a progression from fluctuating lake conditions to fluvial landscapes and widespread soil development. This is consistent with the temporal change in depositional environments observed elsewhere in the lower Awash Valley, and suggests that these strata are correlative with the Hadar Formation. Furthermore, the strata and basalts at ELG are highly faulted, and overprinted by shifting extension directions attributed to the northern migration of the Afar triple junction. The presence of fossiliferous beds and stone tools makes ELG a high-priority target for anthropological and archaeological research. This study provides a new temporally-calibrated and high-resolution record of deposition, volcanism, and faulting patterns during a period of significant change in the Afar.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

153900-Thumbnail Image.png

Investigating Late Amazonian Volcanotectonic Activity on Olympus Mons, Mars Using Flank Vents and Arcuate Graben

Description

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano on Mars. Previous studies have focused on large scale features on Olympus Mons, such as the basal escarpment, summit caldera complex and aureole deposits. My objective was to identify and characterize previously

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano on Mars. Previous studies have focused on large scale features on Olympus Mons, such as the basal escarpment, summit caldera complex and aureole deposits. My objective was to identify and characterize previously unrecognized and unmapped small scale features to understand the volcanotectonic evolution of this enormous volcano. For this study I investigated flank vents and arcuate graben. Flank vents are a common feature on composite volcanoes on Earth. They provide information on the volatile content of magmas, the propagation of magma in the subsurface and the tectonic stresses acting on the volcano. Graben are found at a variety of scales in close proximity to Martian volcanoes. They can indicate flexure of the lithosphere in response to the load of the volcano or gravitation spreading of the edifice. Using Context Camera (CTX), High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), High Resolution Stereo Camera Digital Terrain Model (HRSC DTM) and Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data, I have identified and characterized the morphology and distribution of 60 flank vents and 84 arcuate graben on Olympus Mons. Based on the observed vent morphologies, I conclude that effusive eruptions have dominated on Olympus Mons in the Late Amazonian, with flank vents playing a limited role. The spatial distribution of flank vents suggests shallow source depths and radial dike propagation. Arcuate graben, not previously observed in lower resolution datasets, occur on the lower flanks of Olympus Mons and indicate a recent extensional state of stress. Based on spatial and superposition relationships, I have constructed a developmental sequence for the construction of Olympus Mons: 1) Construction of the shield via effusive lava flows.; 2) Formation of the near summit thrust faults (flank terraces); 3) Flank failure leading to scarp formation and aureole deposition; 4) Late Amazonian effusive resurfacing and formation of flank vents; 5) Subsidence of the caldera, waning volcanism and graben formation. This volcanotectonic evolution closely resembles that proposed on Ascraeus Mons. Extensional tectonism may continue to affect the lower flanks of Olympus Mons today.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

151075-Thumbnail Image.png

Plio-Pleistocene north-south and east-west extension at the southern margin of the Tibetan Plateau

Description

The tectonic significance of the physiographic transition from the low-relief Tibetan plateau to the high peaks, rugged topography and deep gorges of the Himalaya is the source of much controversy. Some workers have suggested the transition may be structurally controlled

The tectonic significance of the physiographic transition from the low-relief Tibetan plateau to the high peaks, rugged topography and deep gorges of the Himalaya is the source of much controversy. Some workers have suggested the transition may be structurally controlled (e.g. Hodges et al., 2001), and indeed, the sharp change in geomorphic character across the transition strongly suggests differential uplift between the Himalayan realm and the southernmost Tibetan Plateau. Most Himalayan researchers credit the South Tibetan fault system (STFS), a family of predominantly east-west trending, low-angle normal faults with a known trace of over 2,000 km along the Himalayan crest (e.g. Burchfiel et al., 1992), with defining the southern margin of the Tibetan Plateau in the Early Miocene. Inasmuch as most mapped strands of the STFS have not been active since the Middle Miocene (e.g., Searle & Godin, 2003), modern-day control of the physiographic transition by this fault system seems unlikely. However, several workers have documented Quaternary slip on east-west striking, N-directed extensional faults, of a similar structural nature but typically at a different tectonostratigraphic level than the principal STFS strand, in several locations across the range (Nakata, 1989; Wu et al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 2001). In order to explore the nature of the physiographic transition and determine its relationship to potential Quaternary faulting, I examined three field sites: the Kali Gandaki valley in central Nepal (~28˚39'54"N; 83˚35'06"E), the Nyalam region of south-central Tibet (28°03'23.3"N, 86°03'54.08"E), and the Ama Drime Range in southernmost Tibet (87º15'-87º50'E; 27º45'-28º30'N). Research in each of these areas yielded evidence of young faulting on structures with normal-sense displacement in various forms: the structural truncation of lithostratigraphic units, distinctive fault scarps, or abrupt changes in bedrock cooling age patterns. These structures are accompanied by geomorphic changes implying structural control, particularly sharp knickpoints in rivers that drain from the Tibetan Plateau, across the range crest, and down through the southern flank of the Himalaya. Collectively, my structural, geomorphic, and thermochronometric studies confirm the existence of extensional structures near the physiographic transition that have been active more recently than 1.5 Ma in central Nepal, and over the last 3.5 Ma in south-central Tibet. The structural history of the Ama Drime Range is complex and new thermochronologic data suggest multiple phases of E-W extension from the Middle Miocene to the Holocene. Mapping in the accessible portions of the range did not yield evidence for young N-S extension, although my observations do not preclude such deformation on structures south of the study area. In contrast, the two other study areas yielded direct evidence that Quaternary faulting may be controlling the position and nature of the physiographic transition across the central Tibetan Plateau-Himalaya orogenic system.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2012

150066-Thumbnail Image.png

Earthquake geology, hazard, urban form and social vulnerability along the San Andreas Fault

Description

The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of seismic hazard are informed by investigations of paleoseismology, slip distribution,

The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of seismic hazard are informed by investigations of paleoseismology, slip distribution, and slip rate. The impact of earthquakes on people is due in large part to social vulnerability. This dissertation contributes an analysis about the relationships between earthquake hazard and social vulnerability in Los Angeles, CA and investigations of paleoseismology and fault scarp array complexity on the central SAF. Analysis of fault scarp array geometry and morphology using 0.5 m digital elevation models along 122 km of the central SAF reveals significant variation in the complexity of SAF structure. Scarp trace complexity is measured by scarp separation, changes in strike, fault trace gaps, and scarp length per SAF kilometer. Geometrical complexity in fault scarp arrays indicates that the central SAF can be grouped into seven segments. Segment boundaries are controlled by interactions with subsidiary faults. Investigation of an offset channel at Parkfield, CA yields a late Holocene slip rate of 26.2 +6.4/- 4.3 mm/yr. This rate is lower than geologic measurements on the Carrizo section of the SAF and rates implied by far-field geodesy. However, it is consistent with historical observations of slip at Parkfield. Paleoseismology at Parkfield indicates that large earthquakes are absent from the stratigraphic record for at least a millennia. Together these observations imply that the amount of plate boundary slip accommodated by the main SAF varies along strike. Contrary to most environmental justice analyses showing that vulnerable populations are spatially-tied to environmental hazards, geospatial analyses relating social vulnerability and earthquake hazard in southern California show that these groups are not disproportionately exposed to the areas of greatest hazard. Instead, park and green space is linked to earthquake hazard through fault zone regulation. In Los Angeles, a parks poor city, the distribution of social vulnerability is strongly tied to a lack of park space. Thus, people with access to financial and political resources strive to live in neighborhoods with parks, even in the face of forewarned risk.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

150434-Thumbnail Image.png

Exploring the history of India-Eurasia collision and subsequent deformation in the Indus Basin, NW Indian Himalaya

Description

Understanding the evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen is important because of its purported effects on global geodynamics, geochemistry and climate. It is surprising that the timing of initiation of this canonical collisional orogen is poorly constrained, with estimates ranging from

Understanding the evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen is important because of its purported effects on global geodynamics, geochemistry and climate. It is surprising that the timing of initiation of this canonical collisional orogen is poorly constrained, with estimates ranging from Late Cretaceous to Early Oligocene. This study focuses on the Ladakh region in the northwestern Indian Himalaya, where early workers suggested that sedimentary deposits of the Indus Basin molasse sequence, located in the suture zone, preserve a record of the early evolution of orogenesis, including initial collision between India and Eurasia. Recent studies have challenged this interpretation, but resolution of the issue has been hampered by poor accessibility, paucity of robust depositional age constraints, and disputed provenance of many units in the succession. To achieve a better understanding of the stratigraphy of the Indus Basin, multispectral remote sensing image analysis resulted in a new geologic map that is consistent with field observations and previously published datasets, but suggests a substantial revision and simplification of the commonly assumed stratigraphic architecture of the basin. This stratigraphic framework guided a series of new provenance studies, wherein detrital U-Pb geochronology, 40Ar/39Ar and (U-Th)/He thermochronology, and trace-element geochemistry not only discount the hypothesis that collision began in the Early Oligocene, but also demonstrate that both Indian and Eurasian detritus arrived in the basin prior to deposition of the last marine limestone, constraining the age of collision to older than Early Eocene. Detrital (U-Th)/He thermochronology further elucidates the thermal history of the basin. Thus, we constrain backthrusting, thought to be an important mechanism by which Miocene convergence was accommodated, to between 11-7 Ma. Finally, an unprecedented conventional (U-Th)/He thermochronologic dataset was generated from a modern river sand to assess steady state assumptions of the source region. Using these data, the question of the minimum number of dates required for robust interpretation was critically evaluated. The application of a newly developed (U-Th)/He UV-laser-microprobe thermochronologic technique confirmed the results of the conventional dataset. This technique improves the practical utility of detrital mineral (U-Th)/He thermochronology, and will facilitate future studies of this type.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

150227-Thumbnail Image.png

Tectonic Geomorphology of the San Gabriel Mountains, CA

Description

The San Gabriel Mountains (SGM) of southern California provide the opportunity to study the topographic controls on erosion rate in a mountain range where climate and lithology are relatively constant. I use a combination of digital elevation model data, detailed

The San Gabriel Mountains (SGM) of southern California provide the opportunity to study the topographic controls on erosion rate in a mountain range where climate and lithology are relatively constant. I use a combination of digital elevation model data, detailed channel survey data, decadal climate records, and catchment-averaged erosion rates quantified from 10Be concentrations in stream sands to investigate the style and rates of hillslope and channel processes across the transition from soil-mantled to rocky landscapes in the SGM. Specifically, I investigate (1) the interrelations among different topographic metrics and their variation with erosion rate, (2) how hillslopes respond to tectonic forcing in "threshold" landscapes, (3) the role of discharge variability and erosion thresholds in controlling the relationship between relief and erosion rate, and (4) the style and pace of transient adjustment in the western SGM to a recent increase in uplift rate. Millennial erosion rates in the SGM range from 0.03-1.1 mm/a, generally increasing from west to east. For low erosion rates (< 0.3 mm/a), hillslopes tend to be soil-mantled, and catchment-averaged erosion rates are positively correlated with catchment-averaged slope, channel steepness, and local relief. For erosion rates greater than 0.3 mm/a, hillslopes become increasingly rocky, catchment-mean hillslope angle becomes much less sensitive to erosion rate, and channels continue to steepen. I find that a non-linear relationship observed between channel steepness and erosion rate can be explained by a simple bedrock incision model that combines a threshold for erosion with a probability distribution of discharge events where large floods follow an inverse power-law. I also find that the timing of a two-staged increase in uplift rate in the western SGM based on stream profile analysis agrees with independent estimates. Field observations in the same region suggest that the relict topography that allows for this calculation has persisted for more than 7 Ma due to the stalling of migrating knickpoints by locally stronger bedrock and a lack of coarse sediment cover.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

152633-Thumbnail Image.png

Late Cenozoic-recent tectonics of the southwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh, northwest India

Description

The Himalayan orogenic system is one of the youngest and most spectacular examples of a continent-continent collision on earth. Although the collision zone has been the subject of extensive research, fundamental questions remain concerning the architecture and evolution of the

The Himalayan orogenic system is one of the youngest and most spectacular examples of a continent-continent collision on earth. Although the collision zone has been the subject of extensive research, fundamental questions remain concerning the architecture and evolution of the orogen. Of particular interest are the structures surrounding the 5 km high Tibetan Plateau, as these features record both the collisional and post-collisional evolution of the orogen. In this study we examine structures along the southwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, including the Karakoram (KFS) and Longmu Co (LCF) faults, and the Ladakh, Pangong and Karakoram Ranges. New low-temperature thermochronology data collected from across the Ladakh, Pangong and Karakoram Ranges improved the spatial resolution of exhumation patterns adjacent to the edge of the plateau. These data show a southwest to northeast decrease in cooling ages, which is the trailing end of a wave of decreased exhumation related to changes in the overall amount of north-south shortening accommodated across the region. We also posit that north-south shortening is responsible for the orientation of the LCF in India. Previously, the southern end of the LCF was unmapped. We used ASTER remotely sensed images to create a comprehensive lithologic map of the region, which allowed us to map the LCF into India. This mapping shows that this fault has been rotated into parallelism with the Karakoram fault system as a result of N-S shortening and dextral shear on the KFS. Additionally, the orientation and sense of motion along these two systems implies that they are acting as a conjugate fault pair, allowing the eastward extrusion of the Tibet. Finally, we identify and quantify late Quaternary slip on the Tangtse strand of the KFS, which was previously believed to be inactive. Our study found that this fault strand accommodated ca. 6 mm/yr of slip over the last ca. 33-6 ka. Additionally, we speculate that slip is temporally partitioned between the two fault strands, implying that this part of the fault system is more complex than previously believed.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014

152977-Thumbnail Image.png

Hydroclimatic controls on erosional efficiency in mountain landscapes

Description

Climate and its influence on hydrology and weathering is a key driver of surface processes on Earth. Despite its clear importance to hazard generation, fluvial sediment transport and erosion, the drawdown of atmospheric CO2 via the rock cycle, and feedbacks

Climate and its influence on hydrology and weathering is a key driver of surface processes on Earth. Despite its clear importance to hazard generation, fluvial sediment transport and erosion, the drawdown of atmospheric CO2 via the rock cycle, and feedbacks between climate and tectonics, quantifying climatic controls on long-term erosion rates has proven to be one of the grand problems in geomorphology. In fact, recent attempts addressing this problem using cosmogenic radionuclide (CRN) derived erosion rates suggest very weak climatic controls on millennial-scale erosion rates contrary to expectations. In this work, two challenges are addressed that may be impeding progress on this problem.

The first challenge is choosing appropriate climate metrics that are closely tied to erosional processes. For example, in fluvial landscapes, most runoff events do little to no geomorphic work due to erosion thresholds, and event-scale variability dictates how frequently these thresholds are exceeded. By analyzing dense hydroclimatic datasets in the contiguous U.S. and Puerto Rico, we show that event-scale runoff variability is only loosely related to event-scale rainfall variability. Instead, aridity and fractional evapotranspiration (ET) losses are much better predictors of runoff variability. Importantly, simple hillslope-scale soil water balance models capture major aspects of the observed relation between runoff variability and fractional ET losses. Together, these results point to the role of vegetation water use as a potential key to relating mean hydrologic partitioning with runoff variability.

The second challenge is that long-term erosion rates are expected to balance rock uplift rates as landscapes approach topographic steady state, regardless of hydroclimatic setting. This is illustrated with new data along the Main Gulf Escarpment, Baja, Mexico. Under this conceptual framework, climate is not expected to set the erosion rate, but rather the erosional efficiency of the system, or the steady-state relief required for erosion to keep up with tectonically driven uplift rates. To assess differences in erosional efficiency across landscapes experiencing different climatic regimes, we contrast new CRN data from tectonically active landscapes in Baja, Mexico and southern California (arid) with northern Honduras (very humid) alongside other published global data from similar hydroclimatic settings. This analysis shows how climate does, in fact, set functional relationships between topographic metrics like channel steepness and long-term erosion rates. However, we also show that relatively small differences in rock erodibility and incision thresholds can easily overprint hydroclimatic controls on erosional efficiency motivating the need for more field based constraints on these important variables.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014

152607-Thumbnail Image.png

Tectonic and climatic influence on the evolution of the Bhutan Himalaya

Description

The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on Earth, there is currently no consensus on how climatic and

The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on Earth, there is currently no consensus on how climatic and tectonic processes have combined to shape its topographic evolution. The Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalaya provides a unique opportunity to study the interconnections among Himalayan climate, topography, erosion, and tectonics. The eastern Himalaya are remarkably different from the rest of the orogen, most strikingly due to the presence of the Shillong Plateau to the south of the Himalayan rangefront. The tectonic structures associated with the Shillong Plateau have accommodated convergence between India and Eurasia and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the Himalaya to a reduction in local shortening. In addition, the position and orientation of the plateau topography has intercepted moisture once bound for the Himalaya and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the range to a reduction in rainfall. I focused this study around the gently rolling landscapes found in the middle of the otherwise extremely rugged Bhutan Himalaya, with the understanding that these landscapes likely record a recent change in the evolution of the range. I have used geochronometric, thermochronometric, and cosmogenic nuclide techniques, combined with thermal-kinematic and landscape evolution models to draw three primary conclusions. 1) The cooling histories of bedrock samples from the hinterland of the Bhutan Himalaya show a protracted decrease in erosion rate from the Middle Miocene toward the Pliocene. I have attributed this change to a reduction in shortening rates across the Himalayan mountain belt, due to increased accommodation of shortening across the Shillong Plateau. 2) The low-relief landscapes of Bhutan were likely created by backtilting and surface uplift produced by an active, blind, hinterland duplex. These landscapes were formed during surface uplift, which initiated ca. 1.5 Ma and has totaled 800 m. 3) Millennial-scale erosion rates are coupled with modern rainfall rates. Non-linear relationships between topographic metrics and erosion rates, suggest a fundamental difference in the mode of river incision within the drier interior of Bhutan and the wetter foothills.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014