22 Feb 2024
 | 22 Feb 2024

Geomorphic indices for unveiling fault segmentation and tectono-geomorphic evolution with insights into the impact of inherited topography, Ulsan Fault Zone, Korea

Cho-Hee Lee, Yeong Bae Seong, John Weber, Sangmin Ha, Dong-Eun Kim, and Byung Yong Yu

Abstract. Quantifying present topography can provide insights into landscape evolution and its controls, as the present topography is a cumulative expression of the types, distributions, and intensities of past and present processes. The Ulsan Fault Zone (UFZ) is an active fault zone on the southeastern Korean Peninsula that has been reactivated as a reverse fault around 5 Ma. This NNW–SSE-trending fault zone exhibits a predominantly reverse sense of movement today and dips towards the east. This study investigates the history of tectonic activity along the UFZ and the landscape evolution of the hanging wall side of the UFZ, focusing on neotectonic perturbations using 10Be-derived catchment-wide denudation rate and bedrock incision rates, geomorphic indices, and a landscape evolution model. We evaluated the spatial variation in the relative tectonic intensity from the variation in geomorphic indices along the UFZ. Five geological segments were identified along the fault based on the relative tectonic intensity and fault geometry. We then simulated four cases of landscape evolution using modelling to investigate the geomorphic processes and topographic changes in the study area in response to fault slip. The model results reveal that the geomorphic processes and the patterns of geomorphic indices (e.g., χ anomalies) depend on the inherited topography (i.e., the topography that existed prior to reverse faulting on the UFZ). On the basis of this important finding, we interpret the tectono-geomorphic history of the study area as follows: (1) the northern part of the UFZ has been in a transient state and is in topographic and geometric disequilibrium, as this part underwent asymmetric uplift (westward tilting) prior to reverse faulting on the UFZ around 5 Ma; and (2) its southern part was negligibly influenced by the asymmetric uplift before reverse faulting. Our study demonstrates geomorphic indices as reliable criteria for dividing faults into segments and, together with landscape evolution modelling, to investigate the influence of inherited topography on present topography and to help determine tectono-geomorphic histories.

Cho-Hee Lee, Yeong Bae Seong, John Weber, Sangmin Ha, Dong-Eun Kim, and Byung Yong Yu

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-198', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-198', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Mar 2024
Cho-Hee Lee, Yeong Bae Seong, John Weber, Sangmin Ha, Dong-Eun Kim, and Byung Yong Yu
Cho-Hee Lee, Yeong Bae Seong, John Weber, Sangmin Ha, Dong-Eun Kim, and Byung Yong Yu


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Short summary
Geomorphic indices were used to understand topographic changes in response to tectonic activity. We applied indices to evaluate the relative tectonic intensity of Ulsan Fault Zone, one of the most active fault zones in Korea. We divided the UFZ into five segments based on spatial variation in intensity. We modelled the landscape evolution of study area and interpreted tectono-geomorphic history that the northern part of the UFZ experienced asymmetric uplift, while the southern part did not.