Graduate School GRK1364
Shaping Earth's Surface in a Variable Environment
Interactions between tectonics, climate and biosphere in the African-Asian monsoonal region
In the second funding period of the GRK 1364 we aim at studying the rich interactions between tectonics, climate, topography, biosphere, and surface processes in the India-Asia Collision Zone and the East African Rift System. Both settings are influenced by the African-Asian Monsoon, which is highly variable on yearly, decadal, millennial, but also on geologic timescales. Both areas constitute premier natural laboratories characterized by ongoing tectonism and the creation of pronounced relief contrasts in the Cenozoic, thus influencing atmospheric circulation, the distribution of rainfall and spatiotemporal changes in erosional and depositional processes.
Our work will be guided by several first-order research questions, which address (1) the geodynamic boundary conditions of tectonically and climatically driven surface processes; (2) the spatiotemporal characteristics of uplift and exhumation with respect to the evolution of topographic barriers and their impact on rainfall gradients, surface processes, and biotic evolution; (3) the role of fast and large-amplitude climate swings, climatic teleconnections, and climate thresholds in triggering surface processes; (4) the improvement of our ability to unravel signals of tectonic and climatic influences in the sedimentologic record at millennial to decadal time scales; (5) the response of the biosphere with respect to tectonically-controlled topographic changes or global/regional/local climate change at different time scales; and (6) the feedbacks between biosphere, climate and erosion. Understanding these complex interactions is an exciting research and teaching challenge that calls for a multidisciplinary research effort.