Denudation rates of small transient catchments controlled by former glaciation: The Hörnli nunatak in the northeastern Swiss Alpine Foreland

Buechi, Marius W.; Kober, F.; Ivy-Ochs, S.; Salcher, B.; Kubik, P.W.; Christl, M. (2014). Denudation rates of small transient catchments controlled by former glaciation: The Hörnli nunatak in the northeastern Swiss Alpine Foreland. Quaternary geochronology, 19, 135 - 147. Elsevier 10.1016/j.quageo.2013.06.005

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Extensive glaciers repeatedly occupied the northern Alpine Foreland during the Pleistocene and left a strongly glacially overprinted low slope landscape. Only few islands appeared as nunataks standing above the surface of the large piedmont glacier lobes. These nunatak areas kept their original shape, manifested in steep catchments with mean slopes up to 33 . Even though not glaciated, these catchments where significantly affected by base-level changes occurring as a consequence of phases of glacier advances and retreats. Both domains, the glacially eroded and non-eroded, are therefore prone to different mechanisms and time-scales of fluvial and colluvial re-adjustment.
In this study we investigate these effects by exploring the spatial distribution and magnitude of denudation in the Hörnli region of the eastern Swiss Alpine Foreland in the present Interglacial. The area represents both domains in a relatively small area with largely uniform tectonic, lithologic and climatic conditions. The differences in Holocene andscape evolution are investigated using topographic analyses and catchment-averaged denudation rates derived from 10Be concentrations in fluvial quartz sand. We find that in formerly non-glaciated, fluvially dominated catchments close hillslope-channel coupling prevails and that these catchments yield high average denudation rates of 350 mm/ka. Glacially overprinted catchments yielded catchment-wide denudation rates an order of magnitude lower. These low denudation rates are hypothesized to be the consequence of both (i) a dominance of slow hillslope processes and (ii) admixture of high concentration, pre-LGM glacial sediment. This suggests that a) a careful field investigation must accompany the denudation rate studies and b) that the concept of area-weighted cosmogenic nuclide denudation rates must be considered in light of the predominant catchment processes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Quaternary Geology

UniBE Contributor:

Büchi, Marius


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Marius Büchi

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2014 13:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:30

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

Tracking the pace of Quaternary landscape change with cosmogenic nuclides

Uncontrolled Keywords:

cosmogenic nuclides, denudation rates, transient landscape, geomorphometry, Swiss northern Alpine foreland, nunatak




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