Geometry of flexural uplift by continental rifting in Corinth, Greece

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David Fernández-Blanco , Gino de Gelder , Robin Lacassin , Rolando Armijo


Understanding early rifting of continental lithosphere requires accurate descriptions of up-bended rift margins and footwalls that correlate in space and time with the elastic flexural uplift that produces them. Here, we characterize the geometry of elastic flexural uplift produced by continental rifting at its spatiotemporal scale in nature (10s km; 10^4-10^6 yr) using geomorphic evidence from the uplifting margin of the Corinth Rift, Greece. Our geomorphic analyses of space-borne topography novelly outline the coherent elastic flexure of continental lithosphere along and across the rift margin and throughout faulting (~10^6 yr), as defined by the distribution of footwall uplift south of the active bounding fault. Topography and river drainages outline an elastic flexure signal that increases exponentially towards the bounding fault across the footwall for >50 km and changes in amplitude along the footwall following a parabola that decays from the rift center and has a >60 km wavelength. Such continental lithosphere up bend correlates with the scale of the rift, and appears maximum in the center of the rift, where drainage reversal of large catchments suggests rapid slip rates at the bounding fault. This is consistent with the growth of a new rift-scale, high-angle normal fault. The coherency of elastic flexure in space and time implies highly-localized strain in the rift-bounding fault and suggests that the fault transects continental lithosphere with long-term strength. The unparalleled record of flexural uplift and highly-localized strain in the landscape of Corinth suggest these processes are intrinsic to early continental rifting elsewhere.



Earth Sciences, Geomorphology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Tectonics and Structure


normal fault, Continental rift, Corinth Rift, elastic flexure, footwall uplift, drainage reversal, footwall rivers, footwall topography, rift margin


Published: 2019-01-10 13:56

Last Updated: 2022-01-22 07:11

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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