Lithologic Controls on Focused Erosion and Intraplate Earthquakes in the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone

Sean F. Gallen, J. Ryan Thigpen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a new geomorphic model for the intraplate eastern Tennessee seismic zone (ETSZ). Previous studies document that the Upper Tennessee drainage basin is in a transient state of adjustment to ~150 m of base level fall that occurred in the Late Miocene. Using quantitative geomorphology, we demonstrate that base level fall resulted in the erosion of ~3,500 km3 of highly erodibility rock in an ~70 km wide by ~350-km-long corridor in the Paleozoic fold-thrust belt above the ETSZ. Models of modern incision rates show a NE-SW trending swath of elevated erosion ~30 km southeast of the center of the ETSZ. Stress modeling shows that lithologically focused erosion has affected fault clamping stress on preexisting, favorably oriented faults. We argue that the lithologically controlled transient erosional response to base level fall in the Upper Tennessee basin has given rise to and is sustaining earthquake activity in the ETSZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9569-9578
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume45
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 28 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Keywords

  • Appalachians
  • erodibility
  • erosion
  • intraplate earthquake
  • landscape evolution
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)

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