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Long-term patterns of hillslope erosion by earthquake-induced landslides shape mountain landscapes.

Wang, J. and Howarth, J.D. and McClymont, E.L. and Densmore, A.L. and Fitzsimons, S.J. and Croissant, T. and Groecke, D.R. and West, M.D. and Harvey, E. and Frith, N.V. and Garnett, M.H. and Hilton, R.G. (2020) 'Long-term patterns of hillslope erosion by earthquake-induced landslides shape mountain landscapes.', Science advances., 6 (23). eaaz6446.


Widespread triggering of landslides by large storms or earthquakes is a dominant mechanism of erosion in mountain landscapes. If landslides occur repeatedly in particular locations within a mountain range, then they will dominate the landscape evolution of that section and could leave a fingerprint in the topography. Here, we track erosion provenance using a novel combination of the isotopic and molecular composition of organic matter deposited in Lake Paringa, New Zealand. We find that the erosion provenance has shifted markedly after four large earthquakes over 1000 years. Postseismic periods eroded organic matter from a median elevation of 722 +329/−293 m and supplied 43% of the sediment in the core, while interseismic periods sourced from lower elevations (459 +256/−226 m). These results are the first demonstration that repeated large earthquakes can consistently focus erosion at high elevations, while interseismic periods appear less effective at modifying the highest parts of the topography.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Publisher statement:Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:18 March 2020
Date deposited:19 March 2020
Date of first online publication:05 June 2020
Date first made open access:21 June 2020

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