Spatial Variability in Channel and Slope Morphology within the Ardennes Massif, and its Link with Tectonics

N. Sougnez, V. Vanacker
University of Louvain (UCL), Place Louis Pasteur 3 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve Belgium
Telephone: +32 10 47 91 82
Fax: +32 10 47 28 77

There is great interest across a broad spectrum of geoscience disciplines in unravelling the role of tectonic activity in accelerating erosion processes and landscape evolution (Burbank et al. 1996, Maddy 1997, Vanacker et al. 2007). Surface processes that produce and transport sediment, and incise river valleys are complex; and difficult to quantify at longer timescales of 103 to 105 years. In this research, we analyze spatial variation in channel and slope morphology for low relief terrain with differential uplift rates. We specifically test if we can deduce the landscape response to tectonic activity based on the present-day channel and slope morphology. For these transient landscapes, we hypothesize that the channel morphology is a better indicator of landscape response than the hillslope form and relief.

The Ardennes Massif is an excellent field site for studying these processes. The area has been subject to differential tectonic movement: the Northeastern part of the Massif is characterized by moderate uplift and seismic activities, whereas the western and southern parts are undergoing only slight epeirogenic upheaval (Pissart 1974, Demoulin 1995, Meyer and Stets 1998, Garcia-Castellanos et al. 2000, van Balen et al. 2000). Various morphometric indices were used and developed to capture the specific slope and channel morphology of the basins. We then analysed possible correlation between these indices, lithology, and tectonic activity.

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