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S.B. Nielsen

Alpine glacial topography and the rate of rock column uplift: a global perspective

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  • Department of Earth Sciences

The present study investigates the influence of alpine glacial erosion on the morphology and relief distribution of

mountain regions associated with varying rock column uplift rates. We take a global approach and analyse the

surface area distribution of all mountain regions affected by glacial erosion between latitudes 60°S and 60°N.

Most surface area in glaciated mountain ranges is concentrated below the modern snowline as predicted by the

glacial buzzsaw hypothesis. Above the modern snowline the analysed mountain regions all exhibit an

exponential decay of surface area with height. On the basis of this decay, the analysed mountain regions fall

within three distinct groupsprimarily reflecting variations in average values of rock columnuplift rates.Mountain

ranges affected by rapid rock column uplift display high above-snowline relief and large decay lengths, whereas

inactive orogens have little relief above the modern snowline. We find a surprisingly simple relation between

hypsometry above the local snowline and regional tectonic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Glacial geomorphology, Glacial buzzsaw, Rock uplift, Glacial relief

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