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Prolonged seismically induced erosion and the mass balance of a large earthquake

Hovius, Niels; Meunier, Patrick; Lin, Ching-Weei; Chen, Hongey; Chen, Yue-Gau; Dadson, Simon; Horng, Ming-Jame; Lines, Max. 2011 Prolonged seismically induced erosion and the mass balance of a large earthquake. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 304 (3-4). 347-355. 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.02.005

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Abstract/Summary

Large earthquakes deform the Earth's surface and drive topographic growth in the frontal zones of mountain belts. They also induce widespread mass wasting, reducing relief. The sum of these two opposing effects is unknown. Using a time series of landslide maps and suspended sediment transport data, we show that the MW7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan was followed by a period of enhanced mass wasting and fluvial sediment evacuation, peaking at more than five times the background rate and returning progressively to pre-earthquake levels in about six years. Therefore it is now possible to calculate the mass balance and topographic effect of the earthquake. The Choshui River has removed sediment representing more than 30% of the added rock mass from the epicentral area. This has resulted in a reduction of surface uplift by up to 0.25 m, or 35% of local elevation change, and a reduction of the area where the Chi-Chi earthquake has built topography. For other large earthquakes, erosion may evolve in similar, predictable ways, reducing the efficiency of mountain building in fold-and-thrust belts and the topographic expression of seismogenic faults, prolonging the risk of triggered processes, and impeding economic regeneration of epicentral areas.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.02.005
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.3 - Model, attribute and predict impacts of climate and land cover change on hydrological and freshwater systems
CEH Sections: Harding (to 31.07.11)
ISSN: 0012-821X
Additional Keywords: earthquake, landsliding, sediment transport, mass budget, mountain building
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 31 Mar 2011 11:12
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/13310

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