Abstract

We present a topographic reconstruction of the European Alps prior to Quaternary glaciation, based on the assumption that this topography was a steady-state fluvial landscape eroding according to a stream-power law, but with spatially variable channel steepness. We find high pre-glacial channel steepness in the western Alps and on the harder rocks of the basement and metamorphic nappes, while lower values are often associated with weaker Alpine flysch deposits. The reconstructed pre-glacial river network also provides an estimate of distribution and magnitude of glacial erosion and associated isostatic adjustment, suggesting an increase of valley-scale topographic relief and decrease of mean elevation throughout glaciation.

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