Vanacker, V.; Georges Lemaitre Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Earth and Life Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, 3 Place L. Pasteur, Belgium
10be-Derived Denudation Rates Ecuador Erosion Control Landscape Transience River Longitudinal Profiles Tropical Andes
Mountain rivers draining tropical regions are known to be great conveyor belts carrying efficiently more than half of the global sediment flux to the oceans. Many tropical mountain areas are located in tectonically active belts where the hillslope and stream channel morphology are rapidly evolving in response to changes in base level. Here, we report basin-wide denudation rates for an east-west transect through the tropical Andes. Hillslope and channel morphology vary systematically from east to west, reflecting the transition from high relief, strongly dissected topography in the escarpment zones into relatively low relief topography in the inter-Andean valley. The spatial pattern of differential denudation rates reflects the transient adjustment of the landscape to rapid river incision following tectonic uplift and river diversion. In the inter-Andean valley, upstream of the wave of incision, slopes and river channels display a relatively smooth, concave-up morphology and denudation rates (time scale of 104-105a) are consistently low (3 to 200mm/ka). In contrast, slopes and river channels of rejuvenated basins draining the eastern cordillera are steep to very steep; and the studied drainage basins show a wide range of denudation rate values (60 to 400mm/ka) that increase systematically with increasing basin mean slope gradient, channel steepness, and channel convexity. Drainage basins that are characterised by strong convexities in their river longitudinal profiles systematically have higher denudation rates. As such, this is one of the first studies that provides field-based evidence of a correlation between channel concavity and basin mean denudation rates, consistent with process-based fluvial incision models.