An analytical solution for the exhumation of an orogenic wedge and a comparison with thermochronology data

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Elco Luijendijk , Leo Benard, Sarah Louis , Christoph von Hagke, Jonas Kley 


Thermochronology data is key for quantifying the exhumation history and dynamics of mountain belts. Here we present a new analytical solution for the steady-state exhumation of an orogenic wedge that undergoes transport along a basal detachment, uniform internal deformation, basal and frontal accretion. The solution predicts an increase in exhumation towards the interior of the wedge, with the rate of increase dependent on the degree of internal deformation. Application of the solution to a cross section in the Himalayas shows that in spite of its simplicity the solution provides a good fit to thermochronology data, with a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.75. This implies that, although the solution does not capture the effects of individual faults and folds, at a large scale deformation can be described by uniform compression and transport. The results also imply that this part of the Himalayas may be in steady-state. The equations presented here can be used to quantify exhumation, deformation and shortening rates in mature orogens that are in steady-state.



Geology, Tectonics and Structure


thermochronology, Himalaya, mountain belts, exhumation


Published: 2021-03-05 06:59

Last Updated: 2021-03-05 14:59


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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