Abstract

Climate is one of the principal controls setting rates of continental erosion. Here we present the results of a provenance analysis of Holocene sediments from the Indus delta in order to assess climatic controls on erosion over millennial time scales. Bulk sediment Nd isotope analysis reveals a number of changes during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene (at 14–20, 11–12 and 8–9 ka) away from erosion of the Karakoram and toward more sediment flux from the Himalaya. Radiometric Ar-Ar dating of muscovite and U-Pb dating of zircon sand grains indicate that the Lesser Himalaya eroded relatively more strongly than the Greater Himalaya as global climate warmed and the summer monsoon intensified after 14 ka. Monsoon rains appear to be the primary force controlling erosion across the western Himalaya, at least over millennial time scales. This variation is preserved with no apparent lag in sediments from the delta, but not in the deep Arabian Sea, due to sediment buffering on the continental shelf.

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