Asymmetrical erosion and morphological development of the central Ladakh Range, northern India

Jason M. Dortch, Lewis A. Owen, Lindsay M. Schoenbohm, Marc W. Caffee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Variations in erosion were quantified across the topographically and morphometrically asymmetrical central Ladakh Range in NW India to elucidate erosion and sediment transfer processes across space and time and to gain insight into how mountains erode and evolve. Morphometric analysis and 10Be cosmogenic nuclide analysis of 14 fluvial sediment samples from active channels in six catchments conducted across the mountain range constrains 100ka timescale erosion rates for catchments on the northern side of the mountain range and are between 56±12 and 74±11m/Ma, while catchments on the southern side of the mountain range to between 20±3 and 39±8m/Ma for the last ~300ka. Maximum elevation from swath analysis across the range shows a strong correlation with the ELAs of 382 contemporary glaciers. The higher erosion rate to the north likely relates to tectonic tilting of the central Ladakh Range and to active rock uplift on the northern side of the range along the Karakoram Fault. Morphometric analysis shows that the maximum and average elevations increase at nearly the same rate on a catchment-scale across the central Ladakh Range, with higher elevation on the northern side. This suggests that greater erosion on the northern side of the range is not keeping pace with rock uplift. Moreover, long-term denudational unloading does not play a significant role in the tectonic tilting of the central Ladakh Range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages14
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to three anonymous reviewers for their very constructive and positive comments on our manuscript, which helped greatly improved its quality, and to Richard Marston for his very careful edits of our manuscript. JD thanks the Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati for supporting this study as part of his doctoral research; Sigma Xi , the American Alpine Club , and the University Research Counsel of the University of Cincinnati for helping to fund this study; and PRIME Laboratory for measurement of 10 Be. LAO and MWC thank the Department of Geology at UC for helping to fund fieldwork and laboratory analysis.


  • Catchment wide erosion
  • Cosmogenics
  • ELA
  • Ladakh Range
  • Long river profile
  • Swath

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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