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    Collisional mountain belts grow as a consequence of continental plate convergence and eventually disappear under the combined effects of gravitational collapse and erosion. Using a decade of GPS data, we show that the western Alps are currently characterized by zero horizontal velocity boundary conditions, offering the opportunity to investigate orogen evolution at the time of cessation of plate convergence. We find no significant horizontal motion within the belt, but GPS and levelling measurements independently show a regional pattern of uplift reaching ~2.5 mm/yr in the northwestern Alps. Unless a low viscosity crustal root under the northwestern Alps locally enhances the vertical response to surface unloading, the summed effects of isostatic responses to erosion and glaciation explain at most 60% of the observed uplift rates. Rock-uplift rates corrected from transient glacial isostatic adjustment contributions likely exceed erosion rates in the northwestern Alps. In the absence of active convergence, the observed surface uplift must result from deep-seated processes.


    J-M Nocquet, C Sue, A Walpersdorf, T Tran, N Lenôtre, P Vernant, M Cushing, F Jouanne, F Masson, S Baize, J Chéry, P A van der Beek. Present-day uplift of the western Alps. Scientific reports. 2016;6:28404

    PMID: 27346228

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