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Three-dimensional numerical simulations of crustal systems undergoing orogeny and subjected to surface processes

Abstract : As several modeling studies indicate, the structural expression and dynamic behavior of oro-genic mountain belts are dictated not only by their rheological properties or by far-field tectonic motion, but also by the efficiency of erosion and sedimentation acting on its surface. Until recently, numerical inves-tigations have been mainly limited to 2-D studies because of the high computational cost required by 3-D models. Here, we have efficiently coupled the landscape evolution model Cascade with the 3-D thermome-chanically coupled tectonics code FANTOM. Details of the coupling algorithms between both codes are given. We present results of numerical experiments designed to study the response of viscous-plastic crustal materials subjected to convergence and to surface processes including both erosion and sedimentation. In particular, we focus on the equilibration of both the tectonic structures and on the surface morphology of the orogen. We show that increasing the efficiency of fluvial erosion increases the frontal thrust angle, which in turn decreases the width of the orogen. In addition, the maximum summit elevation of the orogen during transient evolution is significantly higher in those models showcasing surface processes than those that do not. This illustrates the strong coupling between tectonics and surface processes. We also demon-strate that an along-strike gradient of erosion efficiency can have a major impact upon the landscape mor-phology and the tectonic structure and deformation of the orogen, in both the across-strike and along-strike directions. Overall, our results suggest that surface processes, by enhancing localization of deforma-tion, can act as a positive forcing to topographic building.
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C Thieulot, P Steer, Ritske Huismans. Three-dimensional numerical simulations of crustal systems undergoing orogeny and subjected to surface processes. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, AGU and the Geochemical Society, 2014, 2, 15 (2), pp.4936-4957. ⟨10.1002/2014GC005490⟩. ⟨insu-01119751⟩



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