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Quantification of long-term exhumation in active mountain belts through detrital fission-track analysis

Quantification of long-term exhumation in active mountain belts through detrital fission-track analysis


The proposed research will use detrital apatite and zircon fission-track analysis of syn-orogenic sediments in order to constrain the temporal and spatial patterns of long-term exhumation in collisional mountain belts. Such data are essential in order to elucidate the tectonic and climatic controls on the topographic development of mountain belts. The four main objectives of this research proposal are:
1. To constrain the spatial pattern of long-term exhumation in the Alps and the Himalayas using fission-track analysis of detrital zircon and apatite from samples of foreland basin sediments. Analysis of sediments from modern rivers draining both origins indicate variable exhumation rates along their strike. Our aim is to test whether such differences can be tracked into the geologic past.
2. To quantify potential temporal variations in the Cenozoic erosional exhumation of the Alps and Himalayas, which may be related to local and global climate change (e.g initiation of the monsoon system in connection to uplift of the Tibetan Plateau, initiation of glaciation).
3. To complete the Alpine data set from previous research with additional samples from the Miocene and Pilocene of the French foreland basin in SE France, in order to improve both its spatial and temporal resolution.
4. To further develop and test the detrital fission-track analysis tool by (1) expanding the technique to detrital apatite, and (2) comparing the European Alps and the Himalayas, two active mountain belts that vary an order of magnitude in size as well as in uplift and exhumation rates. The applicant provides his expertise in detrital zircon fission-track analysis, which includes sample preparation (mounting and polishing), etching procedures and dating techniques of zircon samples as well as data analysis. He will' establish a detrital fission-track component in the already existing fission-track laboratory at Grenoble. The applicant will profit from the host institution's expertise in apatite fission-track analysis and will be trained in this technique, by learning how to handle apatite samples (including mounting and etching), and conduct fission-track dating on apatite. The applicant will also benefit from the host institutes' experience in conducting active tectonics research in the Alps and the Himalayas. Both the applicant and the host institution will gain experience in detrital fission-track analysis and its application as the prime tool for long-term exhumation studies of active mountain belts.

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Administrative Contact

Claude FEUERSTEIN (Professor)

Project information

Grant agreement ID: HPMF-CT-2002-01779

  • Start date

    1 July 2002

  • End date

    30 June 2004

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 125 550

  • EU contribution

    € 125 550

Coordinated by: