- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Many of the valleys on the southern slope of the Alps are over-deepened, having bedrock valley floors well below sea level. This has typically been attributed to incision that occurred during the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) when sea level dropped by hundreds of meters, leading to incision of many of the margins of the Mediterranean. We reassess this interpretation by documenting the correct elevation of the valley floor of the Adige river, one of the major valleys draining the Southern Alps, and by estimating the vertical motion of that valley floor since the end of Messinian incision. We re-evaluated the bedrock incision in the Adige valley using existing borehole data and seismic profiles. We estimate the vertical post-Messinian uplift using thermochronometric data that reveal the removed rock mass and then infer the expected isostatic uplift. These data are combined to reconstruct paleo-river gradients and to test viability of incision profiles. We find that the erosive surfaces in the drill holes restore to a paleo-elevation well below estimates of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) sea level. Restored valley gradients are often reversed compared to todays river gradients, as the uplift correction is higher upstream. A Messinian age of the erosional unconformities within the Alps can therefore be excluded based on the current best estimates of Messinian Mediterranean sea level and post-Messinian rock uplift. Pleistocene glacial erosion left a major signature on the geomorphology of the valleys, which is documented by glacially over-deepended valleys in the northern Alps. These valleys are not influenced by the Messinian sea-level drawdown. Therefore, it is suggested that the over-deepened valleys on the southern slope of the Alps are also glacial in origin. Show more
Journal / seriesSwiss Journal of Geosciences
Pages / Article No.
Organisational unit03754 - Willett, Sean / Willett, Sean
154434 - SWISS-AlpArray - Assessing Alpine Orogeny in 4D-space-time Frame (SNF)
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