Constraints on passive margin escarpment evolution from river basin reorganization in Brazil
Author(s)Douglas, Madison M
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
J. Taylor Perron.
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Escarpments are present on passive margins around the world, but their evolution is poorly understood. Some geologists interpret escarpments as stationary features, whereas others have argued that they are retreating inland faster than a kilometer per Myr. I investigate Brazilian escarpments by determining whether or not the river networks on either side of the escarpment are in erosional equilibrium with each other. My approach is based on the premise that rivers on opposite sides of a stationary escarpment would be eroding at the same rate (erosional equilibrium), whereas rivers on opposite sides of a mobile escarpment would be eroding at different rates (erosional disequilibrium). I use a recently developed technique called chi mapping to assess the erosional disequilibrium of river networks along the Brazilian escarpments. For comparison, I also compile erosion rates on either side of the escarpments from cosmogenic "Be measurements in the existing literature, and use these to calculate recent retreat rates of the escarpments, which fall between 4 and 40 m/Myr. I determine that chi mapping and cosmogenic erosion rates agree on the direction of escarpment movement, but disagree on the magnitudes of the retreat rates. I also estimate the percentage of drainage area exchanged by stream capture as the escarpment drainage divide moves across the landscape. Using two different estimation methods, I find that less than 40% of drainage area is exchanged by stream capture, making divide migration the dominant mechanism for drainage basin reorganization. If my estimates of recent escarpment retreat rates are representative of long-term rates, the Brazilian escarpments have retreated up to 5 km since their formation during the Cretaceous rifting event. My analysis shows that the topographic retreat of the Brazilian escarpments could have been driven by drainage basin disequilibrium resulting in divide migration.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 37-40).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.