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Automated recognition of quasi-planar ignimbrite sheets as paleosurfaces via robust segmentation of digital elevation models: an example from the Central Andes

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Year:
2014
Type of Publication:
Article
Keywords:
geomorphometry, dissected surfaces, robust segmentation, digital elevation model, paleosurfaces
Authors:
Székely, Balázs; Koma, Zsófia; Karátson, Dávid; Dorninger, Peter; Wörner, Gerhard; Brandmeier, Melanie; Nothegger, Clemens
Journal:
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Volume:
39
Number:
10
Pages:
1386-1399
ISSN:
1096-9837
BibTex:
Abstract:
Quasi-planar morphological surfaces may become dissected or degraded with time, but still retain original features related to their geologic-geomorphic origin. To decipher the information hidden in the relief, recognition of such features is required, possibly in an automated manner. In our study, using Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM), an existing algorithm has been adapted to recognize quasi-planar features fulfilling specified criteria. The method has been applied to a study area of the Central Andes with Miocene to Quaternary volcanic edifices, tilted ignimbrite surfaces, and basin-filling sediments. The result is a surface segmentation, whereas non-planar features (gullies, tectonic faults, etc.) are sorted out. The main types of geomorphic features that can be distinguished and interpreted are as follows. (1) The west-dipping western margin of the Altiplano is differentiated into segments of the lower sedimentary cover that of increased erosion by tectonic steepening at intermediate levels, and an upper plane with limited erosion. (2) In the central part of the Western Cordillera, the Oxaya ignimbrite block shows a ‘striped’ bulging pattern that results from a smoothly changing surface dip. This pattern is due to continuous folding/warping of the ignimbrite block possibly related to gravitational movements. (3) To the west, large, uniform planes correspond to flat, smooth, tectonically undisturbed surfaces of young sedimentary cover of the Central Basin. (4) The evolution of Taapaca volcanoes with sector collapse events and cone-building phases is shown by several segments with overlapping clastic aprons. (5) To the east, on the western margin of the Altiplano, young intermontane basins filled by Upper Miocene sediments show progressively increasing dip toward basin margins, reflected by a circular pattern of the segmentation planes. We show that the segmentation models provide meaningful images and additional information for geomorphometric analysis that can be interpreted in terms of geological and surface evolution models. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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