The Eastern Alps in an envelope - An estimation on the "missing volume"

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Detection of paleosurfaces of mountainous areas plays a major role in calculations and estimations concerning the rate of denudation, uplift history and sediment budget. Digital elevation models (DEM) provide a perfect database for the computation of surface features that might be a part of a paleosurface. Sometimes the envelope of the actual surface may indicate a previous erosion plane. Although DEM data used to detect these features contain all information needed to calculate the envelope, the results depend on the data selection and on the used interpolation method. An analysis of the influencing factors was carried out to assess the feasibility of such an interpolation for our study area, the Eastern Alps. The estimation of the surface envelope makes possible to calculate the volume "missing" from the actual valleys calculated as the volumetric difference between the envelope and the actual surface. In the Eastern Alps there is evidence for glacially induced relief enhancement, therefore the estimation of this "missing volume" can be related to the sediment production of the area. Based on the sophisticated selection and interpolation methods used in this study the missing volume is found to be ca. 44,000 km3 with slightly more than 25% relative error for a reference area of 65,000 km2 . This volume would be equal to a layer with 670 m homogeneous thickness. This thickness is small compared to the estimated post-Oligocene exhumation values of some tectonic units (western NCA, Tauern Window, etc.), but may be similar in order of magnitude to that of, e.g., the Gurktal Alps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-275
Number of pages19
JournalNeues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie - Abhandlungen
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology

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