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The non-equilibrium landscape of the southern Sierra Nevada, California

Clark, Marin K. and Maheo, Gweltaz and Saleeby, Jason and Farley, Kenneth A. (2005) The non-equilibrium landscape of the southern Sierra Nevada, California. GSA Today, 15 (9). pp. 4-10. ISSN 1052-5173.

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The paleoelevation of the Sierra Nevada, California, is important to our understanding of the Cenozoic geodynamic evolution of the North America–Pacific plate boundary, and the current debate is fueled by data that argue for conflicting elevation histories. The non-equilibrium or transient landscape of the Sierra Nevada contains information about both past and present controls on the topography of the range. Using geomorphology and thermochronometry, two parts of the landscape of different geodynamic significance and age can be identified: (1) a long-lived, slowly eroding low-relief highland or relict landscape, which we relate to a period of lower relief and elevation from 80–32 Ma; and (2) younger, rapidly- incising river gorges created by at least two stages of elevation and relief increase since 32 Ma. Our data argue for moderate range elevation of ~1500 m at the cessation of arc magmatism in Late Cretaceous time, followed by two events at between 32 and 3.5 Ma and since 3.5 Ma that increased the range elevation to the 4000 m observed elevation today.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Clark, Marin K.0000-0002-6141-8422
Farley, Kenneth A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Additional Information:© 2005 Geological Society of America. Manuscript received 15 March 2005; accepted 4 July 2005. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants EAR-0230383 (Saleeby and Farley), EAR-0105981 (Farley), and EAR-0087347 (Saleeby); the Texaco Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship (Clark); and the Caltech Tectonics Observatory. We thank L. Hedges and C. Paine for analytical assistance, and T. Gannon (Clear Creek Systems, Inc., Bakersfield, California) for flight time and field assistance. Reviews provided by M. Brandon, S. Brocklehurst, D. Malmon, M. Oskin, and G. Stock greatly improved this manuscript.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Texaco Prize Postdoctoral FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Tectonics ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory24
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101118-074345207
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20872
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Nov 2010 21:45
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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