Hsieh, M.-L., Hogg, A. G., Kang, S.-C., & Chou, C.-Y. (2018). The preservation of last-glacial (>50 to 40 ka) colluvium on low-relief surfaces in Alishan, an actively uplifting mountain in southwestern Taiwan. Geomorphology, 322, 159–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.08.041
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12293
Geomorphic studies on the Taiwan orogen have long focused on the rapid erosion and efficient sediment transport in response to active tectonic uplift and frequent earthquakes/heavy rains. Little attention has been paid to the common low-relief surfaces in high mountains that appear to have been geomorphically stable for a long period of time. We undertook a study on a group of such gentle surfaces in Alishan, which consist of poorly drained hummocky slopes averaging 15° and as wide as 2 km. These gentle slopes are underlain by mass-wasting gravels 60–100 m thick, from which 22 radiocarbon dates >50 to 40 ka BP in age were obtained. Below these thick colluvial deposits are ~20° bedrock bedding planes apparently exposed by dip-slope failures. Combining these data reveals alternating hillslope erosion and deposition, along with episodic river downcutting, at a time scale of several 10⁴ yr. We relate this temporal change in geomorphic processes to glacial-interglacial climate change. During the wet inter-/post-glacial periods characterized by frequent heavy rains, landslides/debris flows prevailed and rivers were capable of conveying most sediment eroded from hillslopes. Frequent debris flows combined with sufficient bedload sediments serving as tools for fluvial erosion caused rapid river downcutting. In contrast, the low river erosion/transport capacity during the dry last-glacial period allowed progressive deposition of thick colluvium on the preexisting, gentle bedding surfaces probably eroded during the last interglacial period. This study shows how glacial-interglacial climate change influenced the river/hillslope processes and landscape evolution of the Taiwan orogen.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Geomorphology. © 2018 Elsevier.