21 Dec 2021
21 Dec 2021
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Short communication: Forward and inverse models relating river long profile to monotonic step-changes in tectonic rock uplift rate history: A theoretical perspective under a nonlinear slope-erosion dependency

Yizhou Wang1, Liran Goren2, Dewen Zheng3, and Huiping Zhang1 Yizhou Wang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics, Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100029, China
  • 2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  • 3Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China

Abstract. The long profile of rivers is widely considered as a recorded of tectonic uplift rate. Knickpoints form in response to rate changes and faster rates produce steeper channel segments. However, when the exponent relating fluvial incision to river slope, n, is not unity, the links between tectonic rates and channel profile are complicated by channel dynamics that consume and form river segments. Here, we explore non-linear cases leading to channel segment consumption and develop a Lagrangian analytic model for knickpoint migration. We derive a criterion for knickpoint preservation and merging, and develop a forward analytic model that resolves knickpoint and long profile evolution before and after knickpoint merging. We further propose a linear inverse scheme to infer tectonic history from river profiles when all knickpoints are preserved. Our description provides a new framework to explore the links between tectonic uplift rates and river profile evolution when n is not unity.

Yizhou Wang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-101', Philippe Steer, 15 Feb 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2021-101', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Feb 2022
  • AC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-101', Yizhou Wang, 06 Apr 2022

Yizhou Wang et al.


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Short summary
Abrupt changes in tectonic uplift rates induce sharp changes in river profile, called knickpoints. When river erosion depends non-linearly on slope, we develop an analytic model for knickpoint velocity and find the condition of two knickpoint merging. Then we develop analytic models that represent the two-directional link between tectonic changes and river profile evolution. The derivation provides new understanding on the links between tectonic changes and river profile evolution.