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Summary of Proposal GEO2647

TitleNeotectonics in the central Puna Plateau (NW Argentina)
Investigator Bookhagen, Bodo - Universität Potsdam, Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Team Member
Prof. Dr. Strecker, Manfred R. - Universität Potsdam, Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
SummaryThe objective of this proposal is two-fold: First, we will generate a high-spatial resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) from TerraSAR-X (and TanDEM-X where available) to identify paleaolake shore lines (distinctive breaks in slope in a DEM). The high-resolution DEM covering the Salar Pocitos in the central Puna Plateau will be used (1) to perform detailed geomorphometric analysis to assess natural hazards and (2) to serve as a DEM for the removal of the topographic phase of SAR data. Second, this proposal will utilize the InSAR capabilities of TerraSAR-X to measure the details of tectonic deformation in a previously unrecognized system of contractional faults in the central Puna de Atacama Plateau, the world’s second largest plateau after Tibet. Up to now, this is the first part of the Puna Plateau that exhibits evidence for contractional tectonic activity. This area has been field-investigated and millennial-scale deformation rates have been determined. A preliminary study based on limited ERS and ENVISAT data by the PI clearly shows evidence for tectonic deformation, but due to the limited radar imagery and low spatial and temporal resolution, no detailed conclusions can be drawn. The PIs emphasize the importance of understanding the kinematics and the rates of tectonic deformation in the center of the plateau, as this region is home to multiple explosive volcanic eruptions in the past and in addition constitutes a region of seismic hazards. This is especially important considering that the Puna de Atacama Plateau is one of the largest global distributors of lithium brine. These deformation rates based in TerraSAR-X interferometry constitute an important boundary condition for numerical models describing mountain-building processes. The InSAR-derived rates on ~annual timescales will be compared to decadal rates from ENVISAT and deformation rates on millennial-timescales derived from the offset of dated geomorphic markers (fluvial terraces, lake shorelines and tilted longitudinal river profiles). This will create a more coherent image of tectonic deformation and natural hazards on the Puna Plateau. Justification of data requested The team relies on archived data and requests additional data to be collected (if possible) with center point at -24.5S and -67.1W. Our main focus, however, is the analysis of existing data that have been archived in the catalog. There exist data for this region until January 2014. Because of some seasonal Earth surface changes in this area related to the activity of groundwater and salt deformation, we will require at least an entire season of data with time steps of 3-4 months. Funding of the Research Work for the PI and Co-I The PIs are professors at the University of Potsdam and they and their teams have previously received funding from NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), the German Science Foundation (DFG), and the German Ministry of Science and Technology (BMBF). Funding for field work for this project is provided by the DFG and BMBF.

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