River and Hillslope Response to Localized Uplift Along a Left Bend of the San Andreas Fault, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Studying landscape evolution of the Earthís surface is difficult because both tectonic forces and surface processes control its response to perturbation, and ultimately, its shape and form. Researchers often use numerical models to study erosional response to deformation because there are rarely natural settings in which we can evaluate both tectonic activity and topographic response over appropriate time scales (103-105 years). In certain locations, however, geologic conditions afford the unique opportunity to study the relationship between tectonics and topography. One such location is along the Dragonís Back Pressure Ridge in California, where the landscape moves over a structural discontinuity along the San Andreas Fault and landscape response to both the initiation and cessation of uplift can be observed. In their landmark study, Hilley and Arrowsmith (2008) found that geomorphic metrics such as channel steepness tracked uplift and that hillslope response lagged behind that of rivers. Ideal conditions such as uniform vegetation density and similar lithology allowed them to view each basin as a developmental stage of response to uplift only. Although this work represents a significant step forward in understanding landscape response to deformation, it remains unclear how these results translate to more geologically complex settings. In this study, I apply similar methodology to a left bend along the San Andreas Fault in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. At this location, the landscape is translated through a zone of localized uplift caused by the bend, but vegetation, lithology, and structure vary. I examine the geomorphic response to uplift along the San Andreas Fault bend in order to determine whether predicted landscape patterns can be observed in a larger, more geologically complex setting than the Dragonís Back Pressure Ridge. I find that even with a larger-scale and a more complex setting, geomorphic metrics such as channel steepness index remain useful tools for evaluating landscape evolution through time. Steepness indices in selected streams of study record localized uplift caused by the restraining bend, while hillslope adjustment in the form of landsliding occurs over longer time scales. This project illustrates that it is possible to apply concepts of landscape evolution models to complex settings and is an important contribution to the body of geomorphological study.