GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 129-6
Presentation Time: 3:10 PM


SEWALL, Jacob O., Department of Physical Sciences, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, P.O. Box 730, Kutztown, PA 19530 and RIIHIMAKI, Catherine A., Council on Science and Technology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544,

Topography and its evolution influence climate, and climate, in turn, impacts topographic evolution. This connected climate-landscape system is the dynamic foundation of the interconnected Earth system and, consequently, understanding how climate and landscapes evolve together over thousand- to million-year timescales is critical to understanding the evolution of other, shorter-lived systems (e.g. biological or hydrological). The North American Cordillera, where the meridional orientation of major topographic features has had substantial influence on climate since at least the Jurassic and where significant Cenozoic climate changes have impacted both the rates and processes of landscape evolution is an excellent laboratory for studying interactions between climate and landscapes. We present here three studies that illustrate both the complexity of the climate-landscape system and the utility of using data-driven modeling to study it. 1) Pliocene-Pleistocene investigations in Wyoming and Montana highlight the potential for orbital variations to drive regional climate changes that exert significant influence on landscape evolution. 2) Stream-power modeling derived from those proposed climate changes illustrates the potential influences that local geological and hydrological conditions can exert under given climatic and topographic conditions. 3) Simulations of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic transition highlight the broader roles that global and continental-scale climate and topography play in setting the stage for regional and local processes. In these studies, we show that combining tools across different Earth science disciplines and spatial and temporal scales allows for innovation in quantifying the specific climate-landscape interactions that have contributed to the geomorphology of the modern Rocky Mountain landscape.