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Abstract

The relative importance of tectonics, climate, base level and source lithology as the primary controls on the evolution of alluvial fans is highly debated. This study examines the role of upstream catchment characteristics on the evolution of alluvial megafans by examining three Quaternary fans (the Kalahrud, Zefreh and Mughar fans) along the flanks of the Kohrud Mountain Range in central Iran. These fans formed in a tectonically active basin under arid to semi-arid climatic conditions. The key differences between the evolutionary trends of these fans are that their catchments are underlain by different bedrock types and they have different catchment shapes and outlet characteristics. The catchment of the Kalahrud fan is in a sedimentary terrain with limited sediment supply, whereas the bedrock lithologies of the Zefreh and Mughar fans are fractured and weathered igneous rocks. However, the evolution of the Mughar fan is also controlled by the tilting of the catchment towards a wide apex and lateral shifting in the catchment outlet/fan feeder channel position. These variables resulted in relatively large-scale incision in the Kalahrud and Mughar fans that is absent in the aggradational trend of the Zefreh fan. Upstream lithological and structural controls are the dominant drivers behind the development and evolution of alluvial megafans.

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