Mountain building in the context of climate change

Mountain belts grow and evolve in response to tectonic and erosional forcing. Erosion rates may vary due to climate change and mountains may gain or lose mass as they adjust their slopes towards a critical taper. We have developed a simple two-dimensional coupled orogen-slab model that allows for the prediction of orogen size and plate motion in response to both tectonic and erosional forcing. As applied to the Andes of western South America our models show that Miocene aridifcation may have led to reduced erosion, increased orogen growth, greater frictional resistance to subduction, and, ultimately, to a ~50% reduction in the convergence rate between the Nazca and South American plates.

Mountain building in the context of climate change