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Topographic Relief Response to Fluvial Incision in the Central Tibetan Plateau: Evidence From Cosmogenic 10Be


Yang, Ye et al. (2021), Topographic Relief Response to Fluvial Incision in the Central Tibetan Plateau: Evidence From Cosmogenic 10Be, Dryad, Dataset,


Fluvial incision, regarded as one of the fundamental geomorphic processes, drives the evolution of mountainous landscapes. The transitional landscape from low-relief to high-relief in the central Tibetan Plateau is rapidly evolving as it is influenced by river dynamics, climate change and tectonic uplift. Combining cosmogenic 10Be depth profile dating and topographic analysis, this study provides new constraints on the formation and destruction of low-relief surfaces in the central Tibetan Plateau. We find that the high-relief landscape in the Suoqu area (a major tributary of the upper Nu River) shows a rapid fluvial incision rate of 710 ± 70 mm kyr−1 since the late Pleistocene, while the low-relief topography in the adjacent Xiaqiuqu area presents an order of magnitude lower incision rate of 70 ± 10 mm kyr−1. These results are consistent with the long-term (multi-million-year) exhumation rates derived from low-temperature thermochronology, suggesting that this region has experienced an evolving incision history. We interpret that the higher relief was caused by enhanced fluvial incision, and the lower relief was slowly developed by sedimentation and relatively steady low exhumation rate. The presence of a knickzone appears to mark the boundary between these differentially incising landscapes, which may be caused by rapid headward retreat and higher river discharge in the Suoqu River. The coincidence of fluvial terraces ages with climate-driven events, in addition to paleodenudation rates, indicates that the formation of fluvial terraces in the Xiaqiuqu and Suoqu areas might be associated with the quick sedimentation of weathered materials in early warming periods.


National Key Research and Development Program of China, Award: 2020YFA0607700

Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) program, Award: 2019QZKK0707