Evolution of topography in glaciated mountain ranges (2002)

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This thesis examines the response of alpine landscapes to the onset of glaciation. The basic approach is to compare fluvial and glacial landscapes, since it is the change from the former to the latter that accompanies climatic cooling. This allows a detailed evaluation of hypotheses relating climate change to tectonic processes in glaciated mountain belts. Fieldwork was carried out in the eastern Sierra Nevada, California, and the Sangre de Cristo Range, Colorado, alongside digital elevation model analyses in the western US, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and the Himalaya of northwestern Pakistan. The evidence presented here suggests that the so-called "chicken-and-egg" hypothesis is overstated in its appeal to glacial erosion as a major source of relief production and subsequent peak uplift. Glaciers in the eastern Sierra Nevada and the western Sangre de Cristos have redistributed relief, but have produced only modest relief by enlarging drainage basins at the expense of low-relieftopography. Glaciers have lowered valley floors and ridgelines by similar amounts, limiting the amount of "missing mass" that can be generated, and causing a decrease in drainage basin relief.
Year: 2002
Language: English
Thesis note: Thesis (Ph. D.) - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Note: (Simon Howard)