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Title: River patterns reveal two stages of landscape evolution at an oblique convergent margin, Marlborough Fault System, New Zealand
Abstract. Here we examine the landscape of New Zealand'sMarlborough Fault System (MFS), where the Australian and Pacific plates obliquelycollide, in order to study landscape evolution and the controls on fluvialpatterns at a long-lived plate boundary. We present maps of drainageanomalies and channel steepness, as well as an analysis of the plan-vieworientations of rivers and faults, and we find abundant evidence ofstructurally controlled drainage that we relate to a history of drainagecapture and rearrangement in response to mountain-building and strike-slipfaulting. Despite clear evidence of recent rearrangement of the western MFSdrainage network, rivers in this region still flow parallel to older faults,rather than along orthogonal traces of younger, active strike-slip faults.Such drainage patterns emphasize the importance of river entrenchment,showing that once rivers establish themselves along a structural grain,their capture or avulsion becomes difficult, even when exposed to newweakening and tectonic strain. Continued flow along older faults may alsoindicate that the younger faults have not yet generated a fault damage zonewith the material weakening needed to focus erosion and reorient rivers.Channel steepness is highest in the eastern MFS, in a zone centered on theKaikōura ranges, including within the low-elevation valleys of main stemrivers and at tributaries near the coast. This pattern is consistent more » with anincrease in rock uplift rate toward a subduction front that is locked on itssouthern end. Based on these results and a wealth of previous geologicstudies, we propose two broad stages of landscape evolution over the last 25 million years of orogenesis. In the eastern MFS, Miocene folding above blindthrust faults generated prominent mountain peaks and formed major transverserivers early in the plate collision history. A transition to Pliocenedextral strike-slip faulting and widespread uplift led to cycles of riverchannel offset, deflection and capture of tributaries draining across activefaults, and headward erosion and captures by major transverse rivers withinthe western MFS. We predict a similar landscape will evolve south of theHope Fault, as the locus of plate boundary deformation migrates southwardinto this region with time. « less
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Journal Name:
Earth Surface Dynamics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
177 to 194
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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