Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10553/48697
Title: Fluvial dissection, isostatic uplift, and geomorphological evolution of volcanic islands (Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain)
Authors: Menéndez, Inmaculada 
Silva, Pablo G.
Martín Betancor, Moisés 
Pérez-Torrado, Francisco José 
Guillou ,Hervé 
Scaillet, S.
UNESCO Clasification: 250621 Vulcanología
250607 Geomorfología
Keywords: Fluvial incision
Isostatic uplift
Geophysical relief
Volcanic islands
Gran Canaria
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: 0169-555X
Journal: Geomorphology 
Abstract: Digital analysis of torrential gullies (‘barrancos’) deeply incised into the volcanic Island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) allows us to extract the longitudinal profiles and pre-incision surfaces for individual basins, from which morphometric parameters (length, elevation, area, slope) have been calculated. Other derived parameters, such as ridgeline profiles, maximum incision values, volume removed by fluvial erosion, geophysical relief and isostatic uplift, have also been computed. Based on K/Ar ages for the island, well-constrained incision-uplift rates have been calculated by means of the combination of different methodological approaches commonly used in orogens and large mountain ranges. The geomorphological and morphometric analyses reveal that the island is clearly divided into four environmental quadrants determined by the combination of a couple of key-factors: the age of the volcanic surfaces and the climatic conditions. These factors determine a young sector covered with Plio-Quaternary platform-forming lavas (finished at 1.9–1.5 Ma) evolving under contrasting wet (NE) to dry (SE) climates, and an older sector, conserving the residual surfaces of the Miocene shield building (14.5–8.7 Ma) at the ridgelines, also subjected to wet (NW) and dry (SW) climates. Incision is related to the age zonation of the island. Maximum incisions (< 1200 m) are logically recorded in the older SW sector of the island, but incision rates are directly related to the climatic zonation, with maximum mean values in the wet Northern quadrants (0.18–0.12 mm/yr). The evaluation of the material removed by fluvial erosion for individual basins allows us to assess the consequent theoretical isostatic response in the different sectors of the island. The obtained uplift rates indicate that water availability (by drainage area and elevation) is a relevant controlling factor: the records from the wet Northern sectors show uplift values of between 0.09 and 0.03 mm/yr, whereas in the drier Southern sectors, the maximum values are under 0.015 mm/yr. Mean uplift rates obtained in this study are within the range of those inferred from stratigraphical markers, as is the case for horizons of raised Pliocene pillow-lavas (c.a. 4 Ma) uplifted between 46 and 143 m (0.014–0.024 mm/yr). The estimation of the bulk uplift promoted by fluvial unloading is of + 143 m for the entire island, and of + 71 m for the wet NE sector. These data explain 73% to 99% of the maximum uplift recorded by the raised Pliocene sea-level markers. This reflects that erosional unloading is a critical control factor in the uplift of the oceanic island, but is not capable of explaining the full recorded uplift in Gran Canaria. Additional sources of uplift, such as gravitational unloading, lithospheric flexure induced by adjacent islands, and/or volcanic underplating, are required. The theoretical onset of lithospheric bulging beneath Gran Canaria, as exerted by Tenerife, promoted a broad westwards tilting of the former from 3.8–3.5 Ma ago. This overall tilting accelerated fluvial incision, erosional unloading, and, therefore, the sustained differential uplift on the Eastern slope of the island over its last erosional stage. Considering mean uplift rates for the East and West sectors, Eastern values (0.024 mm/yr) are double than those in the West (0.011 mm/yr), supporting the role of lithospheric flexure of adjacent islands as an additional source of uplift. Complex feedback between fluvial unloading, differential uplift, orographic effect, lithospheric flexure, and volcanic underplating, seems to control the geomorphological development of hot-spot volcanic islands, after the gravitational collapse of stratovolcanos during their rejuvenation stage.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10553/48697
ISSN: 0169-555X
DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.06.022
Source: Geomorphology [ISSN 0169-555X], v. 102, p. 189-203
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