Tectonic and climatic controls on rift escarpments: Erosion and flexural rebound of the Dhofar passive margin (Gulf of Aden, Oman) - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth Year : 2007

Tectonic and climatic controls on rift escarpments: Erosion and flexural rebound of the Dhofar passive margin (Gulf of Aden, Oman)

Carole Petit
Marc Fournier

Abstract

We investigate the respective roles of climatic parameters and the flexural rigidity of the lithosphere in the erosion history and behavior of two adjacent rift escarpments along the northern coast of the Gulf of Aden, in Oman. At this 25 Myr old passive margin, we define a type 1 scarp, which is high, sharp-crested and has retreated 25-30 km inland from its master fault, and a type 2 scarp, which exhibits a more rounded profile, lower relief, and still coincides with its mapped normal fault trace. Since about 15 Ma, the margin has been seasonally affected by monsoon precipitation but with contrasting effects at the type 1 and type 2 escarpments depending on the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone in the geologic past: during peak monsoon conditions, both scarps experienced heavy rainfall and runoff, whereas during monsoon-starved conditions (such as today), the type 2 scarp experienced a foggy, moist climate while the type 1 scarp remained much drier. In order to assess the relative effects of climate and flexural parameters on the present-day morphology of the Dhofar margin, we present onedimensional numerical models of erosion and flexure along two profiles representative of the type 1 and type 2 scarps. Unlike most surface process models previously published, where present-day topography is the only criterion by which to evaluate the quality of model outputs, model behavior here is additionally constrained by independent estimates of denudation provided by geological cross sections, well-defined fault traces, and other stratigraphic markers. The best fitting models indicate that the type 1 escarpment formed under relatively arid climatic conditions and was affected by significant erosion, recession and flexural uplift due to a low (7 km) effective elastic thickness. In contrast, the morphology of the type 2 fault scarp was smoothed by a more humid climate, but a high effective elastic thickness ( 15 km) prevented it from uplifting or receding. In addition, we show that the sedimentary load acting at the foot of the escarpments exerts significant influence on their morphological evolution, though this parameter is often neglected in other scarp evolution models.
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Dates and versions

hal-00582702 , version 1 (06-04-2011)

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Carole Petit, Marc Fournier, Yanni Gunnell. Tectonic and climatic controls on rift escarpments: Erosion and flexural rebound of the Dhofar passive margin (Gulf of Aden, Oman). Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, 2007, 112, pp.B03406. ⟨10.1029/2006JB004554⟩. ⟨hal-00582702⟩
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