09 Oct 2023
 | 09 Oct 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

An efficient approach for inverting rock exhumation from thermochronologic age-elevation relationship

Yuntao Tian, Lili Pan, Guihong Zhang, and Xinbo Yao

Abstract. This study implements the least-squares inversion method for solving the exhumation history from thermochornologic age-elevation relationship (AER) based on the linear equation among exhumation rate, thermochronologic age and total exhumation from the closure depth to the Earth surface. Modelling experiments demonstrate the significant and systematic influence of initial geothermal model, the a priori exhumation rate and the time interval length on the a posterior exhumation history. Lessons learned from the experiments include that (i) the modern geothermal gradient can be used for constraining the initial geothermal model, (ii) a relatively higher a priori exhumation rate would lead to systematically lower inversion results, and vice versa, (iii) the variance of the a priori exhumation rate controls the variation of the inverted exhumation history, (iv) the choice of time interval length should be optimized for resolving the potential temporal changes in exhumation. Putting together these findings, we propose a new stepwise inversion modeling strategy for optimizing the model parameters to mitigate the model dependencies on the initial parameters. Finally, we use three examples of different exhumation rates and histories for method demonstration. It is shown that our new modelling strategy produces geologically reasonable exhumation histories and geothermal gradients that are consistent with both the observed AER and modern geothermal data. The code and data used in this work is available in GitHub (

Yuntao Tian et al.

Status: open (until 08 Dec 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2119', Gilby Jepson, 20 Nov 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2119', Christoph Glotzbach, 28 Nov 2023 reply

Yuntao Tian et al.

Yuntao Tian et al.


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Short summary
Rock exhumation from the Earth interior to the surface is important information for better understanding many geological problems, ranging from mountain building and its decay, to resource and hydrocarbon evaluation and exploration. We propose a new stepwise inverse modeling strategy for optimizing the model parameters to mitigate the model dependences on the initial parameters that are required to simulate the rock exhumation processes.