Carbonate hillslopes are often soil mantled and display a classic convex morphology. In this study we examine controls on carbonate hillslope denudation and morphology using a modified regolith mass balance equation to account for chemical weathering and dust input—two fluxes that are commonly neglected in settings with silicate-dominated bedrock. We utilize seven study sites in the Eastern Mediterranean across a significant gradient in the mean annual rainfall and dust deposition flux. Combining cosmogenic 36Cl-derived hilltop denudation rates with an estimate of the regolith chemical depletion and the quantified fraction of dust in the regolith we predict hilltop curvature and compare our predictions with observations based on high-resolution airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging).

Denudation rates vary from 5 to 210 mm/k.y. and increase with mean annual rainfall. Less resistant carbonates (chalk) experience faster denudation rates relative to more resistant dolo-limestone and are less prone to chemical weathering. Soil production exhibits a humped dependency on soil thickness.

The observed hilltop curvature varies as a function of rainfall and dust flux with a minimum at sub-humid sites. While trends in hilltop convexity are often solely attributed to variations in erosion rate, our results illustrate the additional effects of dust production and chemical depletion. Our mass balance model implies that drier sites in the south probably experienced a more intricate history of regolith production due to dust flux fluctuations. Thus, by incorporating dust flux and chemical weathering to the classic hillslope evolution model we are able to identify a complex relation between hilltop curvature, soil production, and climate.

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