Very slow erosion rates and landscape preservation across the southwestern slope of the Ladakh Range, India

Craig Dietsch, Jason M. Dortch, Scott A. Reynhout, Lewis A. Owen, Marc W. Caffee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Erosion rates are key to quantifying the timescales over which different topographic and geomorphic domains develop in mountain landscapes. Geomorphic and terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide (TCN) methods were used to determine erosion rates of the arid, tectonically quiescent Ladakh Range, northern India. Five different geomorphic domains are identified and erosion rates are determined for three of the domains using TCN 10Be concentrations. Along the range divide between 5600 and 5700m above sea level (asl), bedrock tors in the periglacial domain are eroding at 5.0±0.5 to 13.1±1.2 meters per million years (m/m.y.)., principally by frost shattering. At lower elevation in the unglaciated domain, erosion rates for tributary catchments vary between 0.8±0.1 and 2.0±0.3m/m.y. Bedrock along interfluvial ridge crests between 3900 and 5100m asl that separate these tributary catchments yield erosion rates <0.7±0.1m/m.y. and the dominant form of bedrock erosion is chemical weathering and grusification. Erosion rates are fastest where glaciers conditioned hillslopes above 5100m asl by over-steepening slopes and glacial debris is being evacuated by the fluvial network. For range divide tors, the long-term duration of the erosion rate is considered to be 40-120 ky. By evaluating measured 10Be concentrations in tors along a model 10Be production curve, an average of ~24cm is lost instantaneously every ~40 ky. Small (<4km2) unglaciated tributary catchments and their interfluve bedrock have received very little precipitation since ~300ka and the long-term duration of their erosion rates is 300-750 ky and >850 ky, respectively. These results highlight the persistence of very slow erosion in different geomorphic domains across the southwestern slope of the Ladakh Range, which on the scale of the orogen records spatial changes in the locus of deformation and the development of an orogenic rain shadow north of the Greater Himalaya.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-402
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Be-10
  • Erosion rates
  • Geomorphic zones
  • Ladakh Range
  • Old landscapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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