Tectonic and surface processes (e.g., erosion) act in concert to denude and flatten elevated topography during and following collisional uplift. In orogens that collapsed rapidly (<10 Myr), the effectiveness and relative contribution of erosion remains poorly understood. Here, we use 1-D and 2-D finite-difference models to test plausible magnitudes of erosion during denudation of the Scandian orogenic wedge, in northern Scotland, which previous work suggests may have been very rapid. Thermochronologic, stratigraphic, and thermobarometric data constrain initial post-collision uplift rates as well as the cumulative post-collisional exhumation magnitude. Using these constraints, we consider an idealized orogen subjected to fluvial incision, hillslope diffusion, and subsequent isostatic compensation for a duration of 10 Myr. Using a range of geomorphic parameters, we evaluate whether erosion alone is sufficient to achieve the observed cumulative exhumation. Additionally, we apply a thermal model during the same period to determine the viability of the previous erosion estimates in the presence of a transient geothermal gradient. For most cases with initial uplift rates of 0.5–2.5 mm yr−1, total erosion is insufficient to account for the observed Scandian denudation history, regardless of whether a fixed or transient geothermal gradient is assumed. Average elevations near the crest of the modeled orogen after 10 Myr are >1.4 km, which is inconsistent with the post-Scandian landscape relief interpreted from the reconstructed depositional surface of the Emsian (407–403 Ma) Old Red Sandstone, Collectively these findings imply a combination of rapid erosion and tectonic denudation likely accomplished the rapid collapse of the Scandian wedge.
|Journal||Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth|
|State||Published - Dec 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
A portion of this work uses material provided by the OpenTopography Facility with support from NSF 1833703, 1833643, and 1833632. The authors wish to thank reviewers M. Fox and Y. Rolland and Associate Editor P. Sternai for insightful comments and suggestions which greatly improved the manuscript, and I. Manighetti for editorial handling.
© 2021. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
- numerical models
- orogenic collapse
- orogenic decay
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science