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Landscape response to deglaciation in a high relief, monsoon-influenced alpine environment, Langtang Himal, Nepal

January 1, 2006

Significant glacial fluctuations and rapid paraglacial reworking of glacigenic sediments characterize the Middle and Late Holocene of the Langtang Khola Valley, Central Nepal Himalaya. Geomorphic mapping and beryllium-10 cosmogenic radionuclide (CRN) dating of moraines and paraglacial fans were undertaken to test the existing paraglacial fan, terrace and moraine chronologies. The new dating compares favorably with prior studies that utilized radiocarbon, adding additional support to the assumption that fan and terrace formation are strongly linked to deglaciation. Fan and terrace denudation rates are so rapid in this region, averaging ∼33 mm/yr, that no depositional landforms older than 5 ka are preserved within 250 m of the valley floor. In this region, high rates of denudation during the Late Quaternary are driven by a combination of rapid tectonic uplift, numerous glacial fluctuations and intense weathering driven by an active monsoon climate. Extensive reworking of glacigenic sediments in Langtang during the latter half of the Holocene is consistent with studies completed in other areas of the Himalaya that are strongly influenced by the monsoon.