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Thermo-Europe - Coupled climatic/tectonic forcing of European topography revealed through thermochronometry (IP6)

English title Thermo-Europe - Coupled climatic/tectonic forcing of European topography revealed through thermochronometry (IP6)
Applicant Willett Sean D.
Number 120539
Funding scheme Project funding (special)
Research institution Geologisches Institut ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.09.2008 - 30.09.2011
Approved amount 283'725.00
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Keywords (3)

Alps; thermochronometry; glacial erosion

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
This project is directed at resolving the latest stages of erosion and exhumation of the Bergell region of the Alps. Important questions exist regarding the importance of glaciation to erosion of the Alps over the last two million years and the Bergell region provides an excellent study area to resolve this questions. The Bergell region is located in the Central Alps between Italy and south-eastern Switzerland. It is delimited to the north-west and to the south by two main alpine valleys (Val Bregaglia and Valtellina), which join at the northern end of Lake Como. The bottom of these valleys lies at 300 m elevation and the high peaks or the region are between 3000 and 4000 m high. The high relief of the Bergell region has been sculpted by glacial and fluvial erosion and at present is the one of the most glaciated area of the Alps. The high relief of the Bergell as well as the granitic rock type make the region well suited to the application of low-temperature dating to measure the cooling of the rocks presently at the surface. Low temperature dating methods include (U-Th)/He dating of apatite and fission track dating of apatite. In addition, a new method using the isotopic ratio of 3He/4He to measure the diffusion profile of He within an apatite grain can be applied. Application of all these methods together can give a detailed estimate of the cooling history of a rock sample from 120°C to the surface of the Earth, corresponding to about 5 kilometers of erosion and, in this region, about 10 million years of history. Most technology already exists at for this work at the ETH, However, we propose to build a dedicated line for He measurement we will set up a new facility to perform 3He/4He.We propose to apply all these methods to a suite of samples taken from the Bergel region at all elevations. This will require extensive fieldwork to collect samples from valleys and high peaks in order to maximize temperature differences at the time of cooling. The result will be a detailed picture of the development of the landscape in response to glacial erosion. These data will be compared to theoretical models for glacial erosion onto a fluvial landscape.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126408 Glacial Carving versus Tectonic Forcing. Documenting their Relative Contribution to Relief Formation 01.10.2009 Ambizione
143165 Glacial Carving versus Tectonic Forcing. Documenting their Relative Contribution to Relief Formation 01.10.2012 Ambizione
138243 ThermoEurope: low temperature exhumation history of the Bergell 01.10.2011 Project funding

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