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Links between erosion, runoff variability and seismicity in the Taiwan orogen

By Simon J. Dadson, Niels Hovius, Hongey Chen, W. Brian Dade, Meng-Long Hsieh, Sean D. Willett, Jyr-Ching Hu, Ming-Jame Horng, Meng-Chiang Chen, Colin P. Stark, Dimitri Lague and Jiun-Chuan Lin


The erosion of mountain belts controls their topographic and structural evolution1, 2, 3 and is the main source of sediment delivered to the oceans4. Mountain erosion rates have been estimated from current relief and precipitation, but a more complete evaluation of the controls on erosion rates requires detailed measurements across a range of timescales. Here we report erosion rates in the Taiwan mountains estimated from modern river sediment loads, Holocene river incision and thermochronometry on a million-year scale. Estimated erosion rates within the actively deforming mountains are high (3–6 mm yr-1) on all timescales, but the pattern of erosion has changed over time in response to the migration of localized tectonic deformation. Modern, decadal-scale erosion rates correlate with historical seismicity and storm-driven runoff variability. The highest erosion rates are found where rapid deformation, high storm frequency and weak substrates coincide, despite low topographic relief.\u

Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1038/nature02150
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