Does pebble abrasion influence detrital age population statistics? A numerical investigation of natural datasets

Chrystiann Lavarini ferreira, Mikael Attal, Carlos Alberto da Costa Filho, Linda Kirstein

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Pebble abrasion is a key factor controlling the release of minerals into sand, but few attempts have been made to model how it could influence the liberation of minerals into the size fraction used in detrital geochronology. We perform a series of experiments with an abrasion model to test this influence using natural and synthetic data sets. Our results demonstrate that pebble abrasion can change the zircon mixing proportions of upstream source units as well as the age distribution of mixed fluvial sands. This change is particularly significant when there is strong contrast in rock resistance within the watershed. Pebble abrasion is one of many factors that can change the mixing proportion of sands, including hillslope gravel supply, erosion rates, and mineral fertility. In our study case (Marsyandi watershed, Himalaya), the abrasion model predicts age distributions that are statistically indistinguishable from those predicted by a no‐abrasion model. However, the relative erosion rates estimated by our model largely differ from the results of a no‐abrasion model and are closer to those from other studies that suggest a strong correlation between modern erosion rates, tectonics, and precipitation intensity in the Marsyandi watershed. These findings highlight that, even in cases where there is no statistical evidence of change between the modeled age distributions, abrasion can affect the erosion rates estimated from them. Therefore, quantifying the influence of abrasion on sand production is an essential step not only to predict mixing proportions but also to accurately retrieve erosion rates from the measured grain age distributions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2018


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