The formation of mountain range curvature by gravitational spreading

Copley, Alex (2012) The formation of mountain range curvature by gravitational spreading. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 351–35. pp. 208-214. ISSN 0012-821X DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.07.036

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Abstract

This paper presents a mechanism by which mountain ranges can form curved range-fronts. Gravitational spreading of mountain ranges that have been thrust onto rigid lowlands will result in the formation of curvature, provided that enough gravity-driven flow occurs to dominate the shape of the topography. Whether this mechanism can operate during the lifetime of a given mountain range depends upon the viscosity of the range, the square of the along-strike length of the range, and the cube of the elevation of the range. The curvature of the southern edge of the Tibetan Plateau is consistent with formation by gravitational spreading provided that the viscosity is similar to that previously estimated using other, independent, methods. The low elevation and young age of the Zagros mountains mean that large-scale curvature has not had time to develop. The short along-strike extent and possibly low viscosity of the Sulaiman Ranges in Pakistan may have allowed the ranges to form their distinctive arcuate shape. The formation of range-front curvature plays an important role in controlling the tectonic evolution of the interiors of the ranges, with arc-parallel extension becoming progressively more important as range-front curvature develops.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2012AREP; IA64;
Subjects: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Journal or Publication Title: Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume: 351–35
Page Range: pp. 208-214
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.07.036
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2012 13:33
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:05
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/2649

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