Controls on landscape evolution in the Southern Alps, New Zealand

The Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand, lie on a tectonic plate boundary, experience some of the highest annual precipitation rates on Earth, and retain remnants of glaciers that were more extensive on a number of occasions during the Pleistocene. Aside from the aesthetic qualities of the resulting topography, the dramatic spatial gradients in uplift rate and precipitation make this an ideal location for investigating the key controls on landscape evolution. Is the topography primarily a function of the tectonics, as is generally the case for fluvial landscapes? Or does the “glacial buzzsaw” hypothesis, that glacial erosion dominates, irrespective of tectonics, apply? To what extent do surface processes in the current landscape reflect those responsible for the longer-term development of the range?

▲ Up to the top