We present a study to estimate the large-scale landscape history of a continental margin, by establishing a source-to-sink volume balance between the eroding onshore areas and the offshore basins. Assuming erosion as the primary process for sediment production, we strive to constrain a numerical model of landscape evolution that balances the volumes of eroded materials from the continent and that deposited in the corresponding basins, with a ratio imposed for loss of erosion products. We use this approach to investigate the landscape history of Madagascar since the Late Cretaceous. The uplift history prescribed in the model is inferred from elevations of planation surfaces formed at various ages. By fitting the volumes of terrigenous sediments in the Morondava Basin along the west coast and the current elevation of the island, the landscape evolution model is optimized by constraining the erosion law parameters and ratios of sediment loss. The results include a best-fit landscape evolution model, which features two major periods of uplift and erosion during the Late Cretaceous and the middle to late Cenozoic. The model supports suggestions from previous studies that most of the high topography of the island was constructed since the middle to late Miocene, and on the central plateau the erosion has not reached an equilibrium with the high uplift rates in the late Cenozoic. Our models also indicate that over the geological time scale, a significant portion of materials eroded from Madagascar was not archived in the offshore basin, possibly consumed by chemical weathering, the intensity of which might have varied with climate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Geography, Planning and Development