Chile is an elongated country, running in a north-south direction for more than 30° along a subduction zone. Its climate is progressively wetter and colder from north to south. This particular geography has been used positively by a growing number of studies to better understand the relationships between erosion processes and climate, land use, slope, tectonics, volcanism, etc. Here we review the erosion rates, factors, and dynamics over millennial to daily periods reported in the literature. In addition, 21 new catchment mean erosion rates (suspended sediment and 10Be) are provided, and previous suspended sediment-derived erosion rates are updated. A total of 485 local and catchment mean erosion rates are reported. Erosion rates vary between some of the smallest values on earth (10−5mm/a) to moderate values ≤0.5mm/a compared to other active ranges. This review highlights strong limitations concerning the quantification of local erosion factors because of uncertainties in sampling point location, slope and rainfall data. For the mean erosion rates E for the millennial and decennial catchments, a model of the form E ∝ S/ [1−(S/0.6)2] Rα with α=[0.3,0.8] accounts for 40 to 70% of the erosion variance, confirming a primary role of slope S compared to precipitation rate R over this time scale. Over the long-term, this review points to the long (5 to >10Ma) response time of rivers to surface uplift in north-central arid Chile. Over millennia, data provide evidence for the progressive contribution of extreme erosion events to millennial averages for drier climates, as well as the link between glacier erosion and glacier sliding velocity. In this period of time, a discrepancy exists between the long-term offshore sedimentological record and continental decennial or millennial erosion data, for which no single explanation appears. Still, little information is available concerning the magnitude of variation of millennial erosion rates. Over centuries, data show the variable role of groundwater in the dynamics of suspended load and document a decrease in erosion over hundreds of years, probably associated with historical harvesting.
Geomorphology – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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