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Still Waters

The Swiss Alps continue to rise

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Still Waters

An international team of geologists, headed by members of the University of Bern, has shown for the first time that the Swiss Alps are being lifted faster than they are being lowered through erosion—and are thus growing even higher. To do this, the researchers quantified the erosion of the Alps with the help of isotopes measured in the sand of more than 350 rivers throughout the European Alps. These isotopes are formed by cosmic rays and bear information on the Earth's surface erosion.

How quickly are the Alps eroded? Has erosion been faster than crustal uplift, and is erosion dependent on precipitation? An international team of geologists, headed by members of the University of Bern, was able to solve these questions. The researchers were able to illustrate that the erosion occurs more slowly than the uplift, especially in the Swiss Alps. They were also able to show that the erosion mainly depends on the relief and the slope of the terrain, while precipitation and water runoff have no clearly recognizable influence. The study was published in the journal Earth-Science Reviews.


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