Unraveling the roles of asymmetric uplift, normal faulting and groundwater flow to drainage rearrangement in an emerging karstic landscape
Abstract Landscape adjustment to tectonic, lithologic and climatic forcing leads to drainage reorganization and migration of divides. The respective contribution of these forcings, especially on carbonate landscapes is not well defined. Here, we have addressed this issue by combining field observations, satellite image interpretation and digital elevation model (DEM) quantitative analysis to assess drainage response to spatially heterogeneous rainfall, asymmetric uplift, and normal faulting on an emerging carbonated platform (Sumba Island, Indonesia). We map geomorphic markers of fluvial dynamics and drainage rearrangement and compute a χ parameter that incorporates the contributions of unevenly distributed precipitation and asymmetric uplift to estimate erosional disequilibrium across drainage divides. We find that asymmetric emergence of Sumba Island created an initial parallel drainage, asymmetric across a divide that propagates landwards. Soon after establishing itself on the emerging slopes this drainage was disturbed by normal faulting, which has become the main force driving drainage rearrangement. Vertical offsets across normal fault scarps first triggered aggradation within valleys over the hanging walls, and then disconnected upstream reaches from downstream reaches, leading to the formation of wind gaps atop the fault scarps and upstream perched sedimentary basins. The defeat of rivers by growing fault scarps was catalysed by the possibility for surface water to be rerouted near the fault scarps into underground water networks inside the underlying carbonates. At the end of the process, the opposite drainage across the main water divide captured the struggling drainage. Capture mechanisms include initial groundwater capture of the perched alluvial aquifers, followed by ground sapping at the head of the opposite drainage and surface stream diversion by avulsion. Finally, normal faulting is the main driving force of drainage rearrangement allowing avulsion and karstic rerouting whereas asymmetric uplift and climate forcings have shown a low efficiency. The role of karstification is more ambiguous, catalysing or inhibiting drainage rearrangement. Copyright ⓒ 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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