** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    Human geosciences

    Global evaluation of erosion rates in relation to tectonics

    Hecht H, Oguchi T

    Erosion rate, Sediment yield, Basin morphometry, Tectonic plates, Peak ground acceleration, Slope, Geographic information system

    Geographical distribution of data used for this study and values of PGA

    Understanding the mechanisms and controlling factors of erosion rates is essential in order to sufficiently comprehend bigger processes such as landscape evolution. For decades, scientists have been researching erosion rates where one of the main objectives was to find the controlling factors. A variety of parameters have been suggested ranging from climate-related, basin morphometry and the tectonic setting of an area. This study focuses on the latter. We use previously published erosion rate data obtained mainly using 10Be and sediment yield and sediment yield data published by the United States Geological Survey. We correlate these data to tectonic-related factors, i.e., distance to tectonic plate boundary, peak ground acceleration (PGA), and fault distribution. We also examine the relationship between erosion rate and mean basin slope and find significant correlations of erosion rates with distance to tectonic plate boundary, PGA, and slope. The data are binned into high, medium, and low values of each of these parameters and grouped in all combinations. We find that groups with a combination of high PGA (> 0.2.86 g) and long distance (> 1118.69 km) or low PGA (< 0.68 g) and short distance (< 94.34 km) are almost inexistent suggesting a strong coupling between PGA and distance to tectonic plate boundary. Groups with low erosion rates include long distance and/or low PGA, and groups with high erosion rates include neither of these. These observations indicate that tectonics plays a major role in determining erosion rates, which is partly ascribable to steeper slopes produced by active crustal movements. However, our results show no apparent correlation of slope with erosion rates, pointing to problems with using mean basin-wide slope as a slope indicator because it does not represent the complex slope distribution within a basin.