David Anastasio is a geologist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies at Lehigh University. He is currently blogging from his research site in Spain. Catch up here!
The Earth’s surface is a dynamic interface that evolves through the influence of tectonic and climatic drivers. Understanding the feedbacks between solid-Earth deformation, surface processes and landscape evolution requires a process-based approach that integrates detailed field observations and temporal determinations across many spatial scales. Changes in tectonic forcing or processes of surface erosion and deposition can alter the near-surface stress field and influence fault evolution, uplift, subsidence patterns, and
topographic relief. East of Granada, Spain, Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Claudio Berti, EES graduate student James Carrigan and I are testing the various models available for the evolution of the Gibraltar Arc and Alboran Sea against the predictions each makes for the Betic Cordillera with field observations and chronologic data along the main drainages of the mountain belt and marine terraces exposed along the Mediterranean coast.
The mountains resulted from the collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates over the last 10 million years. The dating methods allow us to measure rates of surface change to add temporal evolution to our snapshot of the current state of the landscape and allow us to reconstruct the tectonic processes that have led to the present state and to test the sensitivity of topography to record processes within the solid Earth.