Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
10 Sep 2021
Research article |  | 10 Sep 2021

Bias and error in modelling thermochronometric data: resolving a potential increase in Plio-Pleistocene erosion rate

Sean D. Willett, Frédéric Herman, Matthew Fox, Nadja Stalder, Todd A. Ehlers, Ruohong Jiao, and Rong Yang

Related authors

Geomorphic indicators of continental-scale landscape transience in the Hengduan Mountains, SE Tibet, China
Katrina D. Gelwick, Sean D. Willett, and Rong Yang
EGUsphere,,, 2023
Short summary
Exhumation and erosion of the Northern Apennines, Italy: new insights from low-temperature thermochronometers
Erica D. Erlanger, Maria Giuditta Fellin, and Sean D. Willett
Solid Earth, 13, 347–365,,, 2022
Short summary
Escarpment retreat rates derived from detrital cosmogenic nuclide concentrations
Yanyan Wang and Sean D. Willett
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 1301–1322,,, 2021
Short summary
Erosional response of granular material in landscape models
Riccardo Reitano, Claudio Faccenna, Francesca Funiciello, Fabio Corbi, and Sean D. Willett
Earth Surf. Dynam., 8, 973–993,,, 2020
Short summary
A linear inversion method to infer exhumation rates in space and time from thermochronometric data
M. Fox, F. Herman, S. D. Willett, and D. A. May
Earth Surf. Dynam., 2, 47–65,,, 2014

Related subject area

Cross-cutting themes: establish timing and rates of Earth surface processes by applying geochronology
An efficient approach for inverting rock exhumation from thermochronologic age-elevation relationship
Yuntao Tian, Lili Pan, Guihong Zhang, and Xinbo Yao
EGUsphere,,, 2023
Short summary
Cosmogenic nuclide-derived downcutting rates of canyons within large limestone plateaus of southern Massif Central (France) reveal a different regional speleogenesis of karst networks
Oswald Malcles, Philippe Vernant, David Fink, Gaël Cazes, Jean-François Ritz, Toshiyuki Fujioka, and Jean Chery
EGUsphere,,, 2023
Short summary
Evaluating optically stimulated luminescence rock surface exposure dating as a novel approach for reconstructing coastal boulder movement on decadal to centennial timescales
Dominik Brill, Simon Matthias May, Nadia Mhammdi, Georgina King, Benjamin Lehmann, Christoph Burow, Dennis Wolf, Anja Zander, and Helmut Brückner
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 205–234,,, 2021
Short summary
Modelling the effects of ice transport and sediment sources on the form of detrital thermochronological age probability distributions from glacial settings
Maxime Bernard, Philippe Steer, Kerry Gallagher, and David Lundbek Egholm
Earth Surf. Dynam., 8, 931–953,,, 2020
Short summary
Holocene sea-level change on the central coast of Bohai Bay, China
Fu Wang, Yongqiang Zong, Barbara Mauz, Jianfen Li, Jing Fang, Lizhu Tian, Yongsheng Chen, Zhiwen Shang, Xingyu Jiang, Giorgio Spada, and Daniele Melini
Earth Surf. Dynam., 8, 679–693,,, 2020
Short summary

Cited articles

Armstrong, P. A., Ehlers, T. A., Chapman, D. S., Farley, K. A., and Kamp, P. J.: Exhumation of the central Wasatch Mountains, Utah: 1. Patterns and timing of exhumation deduced from low-temperature thermochronology data, J. Geophys. Res.-Sol. Ea., 108,, 2003. 
Avdeev, B. and Niemi, N. A.: Rapid Pliocene exhumation of the central Greater Caucasus constrained by low-temperature thermochronometry Tectonics, 30,, 2011. 
Backus, G. and Gilbert, F.: The resolving power of gross earth data, Geophys. J. Int., 16, 169–205, 1968. 
Ballato, P., Landgraf, A., Schildgen, T. F., Stockli, D. F., Fox, M., Ghassemi, M. R., Kirby, E., and Strecker, M. R.: The growth of a mountain belt forced by base-level fall: Tectonics and surface processes during the evolution of the Alborz Mountains, N Iran, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 425, 204–218, 2015. 
Short summary
The cooling climate of the last few million years leading into the ice ages has been linked to increasing erosion rates by glaciers. One of the ways to measure this is through mineral cooling ages. In this paper, we investigate potential bias in these data and the methods used to analyse them. We find that the data are not themselves biased but that appropriate methods must be used. Past studies have used appropriate methods and are sound in methodology.