Quantification de l'évolution du relief Néogène et Quaternaire des Alpes occidentales. Apports de la thermochronologie basse-température couplée à la modélisation numérique

Abstract : The topographic evolution of mountain belts results from complex couplings between tectonics, climate and surface processes. Quantifying landscape evolution requires methodological tools to constrain forcing processes over temporal (103-106 years) and spatial (1-100 km) scales characteristic of orogenic systems. This thesis investigates the Neogene and Quaternary relief evolution of the European Alps using in situ low-temperature thermochronometry (mostly apatite (U-Th-Sm)/He and 4He/3He) and numerical modeling. A novel numerical approach combining thermal-kinematic modeling (Pecube) with an inversion scheme (Neighbourhood Algorithm) allows extracting quantitative information on exhumation and relief histories from thermochronological datasets. Quantifying relief evolution remains problematic, however, and strongly depends on the geomorphic setting. Our results show that both thermochronology data sampling and modeling strategies have to be considered a priori, in function of the geomorphic setting and the spatial/temporal scale of the exhumation signal to be constrained. This approach has been applied on a thermochronological dataset collected in the Ecrins-Pelvoux massif (French Alps). The results show a pulse of rapid exhumation until ~5-6 Ma, preceded and followed by more moderate rates of exhumation. However, the data cannot resolve the late-Neogene relief evolution in the Ecrins-Pelvoux massif. New 4He/3He thermochronometry data from the Rhône valley (Swiss Alps), combined with thermochronological data from the literature, also point out an episode of rapid exhumation until ~5-7 Ma, and reveal a major increase in local topographic relief (~1-1.5 km) linked to valley carving by large mountain glaciers. The onset of this phase of relief carving corresponds to the Mid-Pleistocene transition from symmetric 40-ka to asymmetric and high amplitude 100-ka glacial/interglacial oscillations. The new data also permit to reconstruct the pre-glacial topography of the Rhône basin, and to evaluate the net effect of Pleistocene glaciations on relief evolution at the basin scale. Preliminary results from numerical modeling of glacial dynamics highlight the potential opportunity of using such an approach to quantitatively assess the impact of the Mid-Pleistocene climate transition on Alpine relief development, leading to new research avenues. Finally, the post-glacial topographic evolution of the Ecrins-Pelvoux massif has been studied using numerical modeling and in situ cosmogenic 10Be analyses. The results suggest efficient fluvial incision at rates of cm yr-1, illustrating the efficient landscape response to late-Pleistocene/Holocene climate change.
Document type :
Océan, Atmosphère. UNIVERSITE DE GRENOBLE, 2011. Français. <NNT : 2011GRENV011>

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Pierre Valla. Quantification de l'évolution du relief Néogène et Quaternaire des Alpes occidentales. Apports de la thermochronologie basse-température couplée à la modélisation numérique. Océan, Atmosphère. UNIVERSITE DE GRENOBLE, 2011. Français. <NNT : 2011GRENV011>. <tel-00579631>




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