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On steady states in mountain belts

Sean D. Willett and Mark T. Brandon
On steady states in mountain belts
Geology (Boulder) (February 2002) 30 (2): 175-178


The dynamic system of tectonics and erosion contains important feedback mechanisms such that orogenic systems tend toward a steady state. This concept is often invoked, but the nature of the steady state is commonly not specified. We identify four types of steady state that characterize the orogenic system and illustrate these cases by using numerical-model results and natural examples. These types are (1) flux steady state, (2) topographic steady state, (3) thermal steady state, and (4) exhumational steady state: they refer to the erosional flux, the topography, the subsurface temperature field, and the spatial pattern of cooling ages, respectively. Models suggest that the topography will reach a steady mean form at the scale of an orogenic belt, but perfect topographic steady state is unlikely to be achieved at shorter length scales. Thermal steady state is a precondition for exhumational steady state and in the case of temperature-dependent deformation, topographic steady state. Exhumational steady state is characterized by reset age zones spatially nested according to closure temperature, as illustrated in natural systems from New Zealand, the Cascadia accretionary margin, and Taiwan.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 30
Serial Issue: 2
Title: On steady states in mountain belts
Affiliation: University of Washington, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Seattle, WA, United States
Pages: 175-178
Published: 200202
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 33
Accession Number: 2002-014651
Categories: Solid-earth geophysicsGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sects.
S47°30'00" - S34°30'00", E166°30'00" - E178°30'00"
N47°15'00" - N48°04'60", W124°19'60" - W122°49'60"
N22°00'00" - N25°30'00", E119°15'00" - E122°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200206
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