Correlation and dating of Quaternary alluvial-fan surfaces using scarp diffusion

Leslie Hsu, Jon D. Pelletier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Great interest has recently been focused on dating and interpreting alluvial-fan surfaces. As a complement to the radiometric methods often used for surface-exposure dating, this paper illustrates a rapid method for correlating and dating fan surfaces using the cross-sectional shape of gullies incised into fan surfaces. The method applies a linear hillslope-diffusion model to invert for the diffusivity age, κt (m2), using an elevation profile or gradient (slope) profile. Gullies near the distal end of fan surfaces are assumed to form quickly following fan entrenchment. Scarps adjacent to these gullies provide a measure of age. The method is illustrated on fan surfaces with ages of approximately 10 ka to 1.2 Ma in the arid southwestern United States. Two areas of focus are Death Valley, California, and the Ajo Mountains piedmont, Arizona. Gully-profile morphology is measured in two ways: by photometrically derived gradient (slope) profiles and by ground-surveyed elevation profiles. The κt values determined using ground-surveyed profiles are more consistent than those determined using photo-derived κt values. However, the mean κt values of both methods are comparable. The photometric method provides an efficient way to quantitatively and objectively correlate and relatively-date alluvial-fan surfaces. The κt values for each surface are determined to approximately 30-50% accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-335
Number of pages17
JournalGeomorphology
Volume60
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004

Keywords

  • Alluvial fans
  • Diffusion
  • Geochronology
  • Quaternary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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