• Variable Denudation in the Evolution of the Bolivian Andes: Controls and Uplift-Climate-Erosion Feedbacks

      Pelletier, Jon D.; Barnes, Jason B.; Chase, Clement G.; DeCelles, Peter G.; Barnes, Jason B. (The University of Arizona., 2002)
      Controls on denudation in the eastern Bolivian Andes are evaluated by synthesis of new and existing denudation estimates from basin-morphometry, stream - powered fluvial incision, landslide mapping, sediment flux, erosion surfaces, thermochronology, foreland basin sediment volumes, and structural restorations. Centered at 17.5 °S, the northeastern Bolivian Andes exhibit high relief, a wet climate, and a narrow fold- thrust belt. In contrast, the southeastern Bolivian Andes have low relief, a semi-arid climate, and a wide fold-thrust belt. Basin -morphometry indicates a northward increase in relief and relative denudation. Stream-power along river profiles shows greater average incision rates in the north by a factor of 2 to 4. In the south, profile knickpoints with high incision rates are controlled by fold-thrust belt structures such as the surface expressions of basement megathrusts, faults, folds, and lithologic boundaries. Landslide and sediment-flux data are controlled by climate, elevation, basin morphology, and size and show a similar trend; short -term denudation-rate averages are greater in the north (1- 9 mm/yr) than the south (0.3-0.4 mm/yr). Long-term denudation-rate estimates including fission track, basin fill, erosion surfaces, and structural restorations also exhibit greater values in the north (0.2-0.8 mm/yr) compared to the south (0.04-0.3 mm/yr). Controls on long-term denudation rates include relief, orographic and global atmospheric circulation patterns of precipitation, climate change, glaciation, and fold-thrust belt geometry and kinematics. The denudation synthesis supports two conclusions: 1) denudation rates have increased towards the present 2) an along-strike disparity in denudation (greater in the north) has existed since at least the Miocene and has increased towards the present. Denudation rates and controls suggest that Bolivian mountain morphology is controlled by both its orientation at mid-latitude, and the feedbacks between uplift, kinematics, orographic effects on precipitation, glaciation, and the increased erosion that accompanies orogenesis.