15 Mar 2021

15 Mar 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

An analytical solution for the exhumation of an orogenic wedge and a comparison with thermochronology data

Elco Luijendijk1,2, Leo Benard3, Sarah Louis1,2, Christoph von Hagke2,4, and Jonas Kley1 Elco Luijendijk et al.
  • 1Department of structural geology and geodynamics, University of Göttingen, Goldschmidtstrasse 3, 37077, Göttingen, Germany
  • 2Geological Institute, RWTH Aachen University, Wüllnerstr. 2, 52062, Aachen, Germany
  • 3Mathematisches Institut, University of Göttingen, Bunsenstraße 3–5, 37073, Göttingen, Germany
  • 4Department of Geography and Geology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstraße 34/III, 5020, Salzburg, Austria

Abstract. Thermochronology data is key for quantifying the exhumation history and dynamics of mountain belts. Here we present a new analytical solution for the steady-state exhumation of an orogenic wedge that undergoes transport along a basal detachment, uniform internal deformation, basal and frontal accretion. The solution predicts an increase in exhumation towards the interior of the wedge, with the rate of increase dependent on the degree of internal deformation. Application of the solution to a cross section in the Himalayas shows that in spite of its simplicity the solution provides a good fit to thermochronology data, with a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.75. This implies that, although the solution does not capture the effects of individual faults and folds, at a large scale deformation can be described by uniform compression and transport. The results also imply that this part of the Himalayas may be in steady-state. The equations presented here can be used to quantify exhumation, deformation and shortening rates in mature orogens that are in steady-state.

Elco Luijendijk et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on se-2021-22', Anonymous Referee #1, 27 Apr 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply to RC1', Elco Luijendijk, 12 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on se-2021-22', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Apr 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply to RC2', Elco Luijendijk, 12 Sep 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on se-2021-22', Anonymous Referee #3, 08 Jul 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply to RC3', Elco Luijendijk, 12 Sep 2021

Elco Luijendijk et al.

Model code and software

wedgex: calculate the exhumation of an orogenic wedge Elco Luijendijk

Elco Luijendijk et al.


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Short summary
Our knowledge of the geological history of mountain belts relies strongly on thermochronometers, methods that reconstruct the temperature history of rocks found in mountain belts. Here we provide a new equation that describes the motion of rocks in a simplified, wedge-shaped representation of a mountain belt. The equation can be used to interpret thermochronometers and can help quantify the deformation, uplift and erosion history of mountain belts.