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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2018-59
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2018-59
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Sep 2018

Research article | 04 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Has erosion globally increased? Long-term erosion rates as a function of climate derived from the impact crater inventory

Stefan Hergarten and Thomas Kenkmann Stefan Hergarten and Thomas Kenkmann
  • Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Freiburg i. Br., Germany

Abstract. Worldwide erosion rates seem to have increased strongly since the beginning of the Quaternary, but there is still discussion about the role of glaciation as a potential driver and even whether the increase is real at all or an artefact due to losses in the long-term sedimentary record. In this study we derive estimates of average erosion rates on the time scale of some tens of million years from the terrestrial impact crater inventory. This approach is completely independent from all other methods to infer erosion rates such as river loads, preserved sediments, cosmogenic nuclides and thermochronometry. Our approach yields average erosion rates as a function of present-day topography and climate. The results confirm that topography accounts for the main part of the huge variation of erosion on Earth, but also identifies a significant systematic dependence on climate in contrast to several previous studies. We found a fivefold increase in erosional efficacy from the cold regimes to the tropical zone and that temperate and arid climates are very similar in this context. Combining our results to a worldwide mean erosion rate we found that erosion rates on the time scale of some tens of million years are at least as high as present-day rates and suggest that glaciation has a rather regional effect with a limited impact at the continental scale.

Stefan Hergarten and Thomas Kenkmann
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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
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Stefan Hergarten and Thomas Kenkmann
Stefan Hergarten and Thomas Kenkmann
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Our study reveals that worldwide mean erosion rates on the million year scale are very similar to present-day erosion rates in contrast to the majority of the previously published results. Concerning the dependence of erosion on climate we found that the long-term erosion efficacy of the tropical zone has been about five times higher than that of the cold zones, while the erosional efficacy of the present-day arid zone has been as high as that of the temperate zone.
Our study reveals that worldwide mean erosion rates on the million year scale are very similar...
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