Abstract

Late Cenozoic warping of the Colorado piedmont involved interplay of tectonic forcing, river erosion, and isostatic response to erosion. Modeled erosional isostasy closely replicates the observed pattern of deformation, but accounts for only about half its magnitude. The remainder reflects tectonic rock uplift that increases southward across the piedmont, likely reflecting proximity to the northward-propagating Rio Grande Rift. This differential uplift triggered differential erosion, concentrated on southern piedmont river systems, particularly the Arkansas River, which led in turn to differential isostatic rock uplift focused on the Arkansas drainage. Covariation of tectonic uplift, erosion, and isostatic compensation across the piedmont reflects a positive feedback between uplift-induced erosion and erosion-induced isostasy, which has progressed to the point that isostatic uplift is approximately equal to the initial tectonic forcing.

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