Masters Thesis

Tectonic Geomorphology of the White/inyo Mountains, California

Measuring geomorphic indices is tedious and laborious, whereas Arc-GIS is inflexible, requires a license and substantial time to learn. This project demonstrates that geomorphic indices may be measured rapidly and accurately using Google Earth. First, Google Earth’s efficacy is shown by replicating parts of several previous studies. Then, mountain front sinuosity, valley floor width to height ratio, basin elongation ratio, basin area, fan area, basin relief, stream concavity index, range crest/piedmont profile, and range front strike are measured along the western White/Inyo Mountains using Google Earth. The geomorphic analysis indicates tectonic uplift rates increase northward. Interpretation of multiple geomorphic indices moves the Montgomery/Hammil and Hammil/Central section boundaries of the White Mountains fault zone (WMfz) to Birch Creek and Sacramento Canyon, respectively. South of the Waucoba Lake Beds, the westside-down of the WMfz ends and tectonic basin polarity shifts to east-side-down normal faults along the Sierra Nevada with the strike-slip Owens Valley fault zone beneath the Owens Valley. This tectonic change also coincides with the southwest extension of the Deep Springs fault (DSf) and the Big Pine volcanic field. I hypothesize that the DSf extends below the Waucoba Lake Beds and is important component of Owens Valley tectonics. Normalized longitudinal profiles reinforce previous work that indicated that tectonics is the primary control on fluvial system and lithology exerts greater control as tectonic activity lessens.

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