The role of mass movements on landscape evolution in the Central Karakoram: Discussion and speculation Academic Article uri icon


  • Mass movement constitutes an important process in the evolution of landscapes in mountain regions. However, the role of massive slope failures in denudational unloading and landscape evolution has not been extensively studied. Large-scale mass movements in one of the greatest mountain ranges on Earth, the Central Karakoram in Pakistan, were therefore examined to help evaluate their role in landscape evolution in high mountains. Specifically, four major mass-movement complexes (Ghoro Choh rock avalanche, Busper sackung and slope failure, Gomboro slope failure, and Urdokas rockslide), each comprising 10 6 m 3 of debris, were assessed and mapped in detail. Two of these mass-movement complexes, the Ghoro Choh rock avalanche and Gomboro slope failure, were dated using terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides. The ages of occurrence of the mass-movement complexes studied in the Central Karakoram date from the late Pleistocene to the Holocene. The four major mass-movement complexes all involved the removal of mass from the tops of mountain ridges and peaks that failed and were subsequently transported towards the bottom of their respective valleys. Such massive movement of mass is anomalous compared to other forms of mass movement and is generally spatially coincident with exposed deeply buried gneiss-dome structures. These large-scale movements appear to be part of a coupled system involving river incision and glacial debuttrussing, although earthquakes might have triggered these mass movements. This study illustrates the role of climate forcing, which is part of a coupled system of denudational unloading, but it is unclear whether high-magnitude, low-frequency events such as these initiate the isostatic and tectonic influx of mass, or if sustained high-magnitude denudation resulting from a coupled system is responsible for the exhumation of buried structures. 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

published proceedings

  • Quaternary International

author list (cited authors)

  • Shroder, J. F., Owen, L. A., Seong, Y. B., Bishop, M. P., Bush, A., Caffee, M. W., ... Kamp, U.

citation count

  • 39

complete list of authors

  • Shroder, John F||Owen, Lewis A||Seong, Yeong Bae||Bishop, Michael P||Bush, Andrew||Caffee, Marc W||Copland, Luke||Finkel, Robert C||Kamp, Ulrich

publication date

  • January 2011