Colorado River terraces in the canyonlands region of southeastern Utah can be dated and analyzed to address the controls of incision and nature of the Colorado Plateau's largest channel-steepness anomaly, Cataract Canyon. Field correlations supported by luminescence and cosmogenic-nuclide ages on strath terraces along Meander Canyon, upstream of Cataract Canyon, reveal a complex record of unsteady incision over the past ∼340 k.y. at an average rate of ∼0.4 mm/yr. Both an upstream progression of rapid incision and a unique sigmoidal long-profile pattern of terraces indicate incision in response to episodic baselevel fall. Also, terraces converge downstream with the anomalously low-gradient modern channel above Cataract Canyon. We interpret these results as indicating that growth of the Cataract Canyon knickzone is due to an erosion-salt tectonics feedback since at least the Mid Pleistocene, which has imparted unsteady, and currently elevated, local baselevel. More broadly, the canyonlands region is marked by rapid and unsteady incision that is complicated by local geologic controls even while being absent of any regional or mantle-driven uplift.
Pleistocene Colorado River terraces in the canyonlands region (Utah, USA) record unsteady, transient incision and growth of the Cataract Canyon knickzone by salt tectonics
Natalie M. Tanski, Joel L. Pederson, Tammy M. Rittenour, Alan J. Hidy; Pleistocene Colorado River terraces in the canyonlands region (Utah, USA) record unsteady, transient incision and growth of the Cataract Canyon knickzone by salt tectonics. Geology 2023; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G51599.1
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