Abstract

The evolution of continental landforms is mainly modulated by the impact of climatic and tectonic processes. Because of their distinctive morphology and the periodicity of their deposition, climatically induced landforms such as alluvial fans or terraces are well suited to infer rates of tectonic and continental climatic processes. Within tectonically active regions, an important step consists in dating displaced geomorphic features to calculate slip rates on active faults. Dating is probably the most critical tool because it is generally much more simpler to measure deformation resulting from tectonic activity than it is to accurately date when that deformation occurred. Recent advances in analytical chemistry and nuclear physics (accelerator mass spectrometry) now allow quantitative abundance measurements of the extremely rare isotopes produced by the interaction of cosmic rays with surface rocks and soils, the so-called in situ-produced cosmogenic nuclides ( 3 He, 10 Be, 21 Ne, 26 Al, 36 Cl), and allow to directly date the duration that a landform has been exposed to cosmic rays at the Earth's surface [Lal, 1991; Nishiizumi et al., 1993; Cerling and Craig, 1994; Clark et al., 1995]. In fact, the abundance of these cosmonuclides is proportional to landscape stability and, under favorable circumstances, their abundance within surface rocks can be used as a proxy for erosion rate or exposure age. These cosmonuclides thus provide geomorphologists with the opportunity to constrain rates of landscape evolution. This paper presents a new approach that combines cosmic ray exposure (CRE) dating using in situ-produced 10 Be and geomorphic as well as structural analyses. This approach has been applied on two active strike-slip and reverse faults located in the Andean foreland of western Argentina. These two case studies illustrate how CRE dating using in situ-produced 10 Be is particularly well suited for geomorphic studies that aim to estimate the respective control of climate and tectonics on morphogenesis.

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