One Million Years of Climate-Driven Rock Uplift Rate Variation on the Wasatch Fault Revealed by Fluvial Topography

Adam G.G. Smith, Matthew Fox, Jeffrey R. Moore, Scott R. Miller, Liran Goren, Matthew C. Morriss, Andrew Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Displacement along the Wasatch Fault, Utah, has created the Wasatch Range. Owing to its topographic prominence, location on the eastern boundary of the Basin and Range, presently active fault slip, and proximity to Utah’s largest cities, the range and fault have garnered much attention. On the 102–103 year timescale, the behavior, displacement and seismic history of the Wasatch Fault has been well categorized in order to assess seismic hazard. On the 107 year timescale, the rock uplift rate history of the Wasatch range has also been resolved using thermochronometric data, owing to its importance in inferring the history of extension in the western US. However, little data exists that bridges the gap between these two timescales. Here, we infer an approximately 1 Ma rock uplift rate history from analysis of three river networks located in the center of the range. Our recovered rock uplift rate histories evidence periodic changes to rock uplift on the Wasatch Fault, that coincide with climate driven filling and unfilling of lakes in the Bonnneville Basin. To ensure our rock uplift rate histories are robust, we use field data and previously published cosmogenic10Be erosion rate data to tightly constrain the erodibility parameter, and investigate an appropriate value for the slope exponent of the stream power model, n. We use our river network inversion to reconcile estimates of erodibility from a number of methodologies and show that the contrast between bedrock and bedload strength is an important factor that determines erodibility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Science
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Climate Change
  • Erodibility
  • Faulting
  • Geomorphology
  • Stream Power
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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