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Plan-form evolution of drainage basins in response to tectonic changes: Insights from experimental and numerical landscapes
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  • Kobi Habousha,
  • Liran Goren,
  • Ron Nativ,
  • Chen Gruber
Kobi Habousha
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel.

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Liran Goren
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
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Ron Nativ
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
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Chen Gruber
Vanderbilt University
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Spatial gradients in rock uplift control the relief and slope distribution in uplifted terrains. Relief and slopes, in turn, promote channelization and fluvial incision. Consequently, the geometry of drainage basins is linked to the spatial pattern of uplift. When the uplift pattern changes basin geometry is expected to change via migrating water divides. However, the relations between drainage pattern and changing uplift patterns remain elusive. The current study investigates the plan-view evolution of drainage basins and the reorganization of drainage networks in response to changes in the spatial pattern of uplift, focusing on basin interactions that produce globally observed geometrical scaling relations. We combine landscape evolution experiment and simulations to explore a double-stage scenario: emergence of a fluvial network under block uplift conditions, followed by tilting that forces drainage reorganization. We find that the globally observed basin spacing ratio and Hack’s parameters emerge early in basin formation and are maintained by differential basin growth. In response to tilting, main divide migration induces basins’ size changes. However, basins’ scaling relations are mostly preserved within a narrow range of values, assisted by incorporation and disconnection of basins to and from the migrating main divide. Lastly, owing to similarities in landscape dynamics and response rate to uplift pattern changes between experiment and simulations, we conclude that the stream power incision model can represent fluvial erosion processes operating in experimental settings.