Research Topic

Mountain Building

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Mountain building involves many geological processes operating on a broad spectrum of spatial and temporal scales, shaped by interactions from the mantle to the biosphere and atmosphere. Mountains themselves document the deformational, magmatic and metamorphic history of plates, terrains and their boundaries, ...

Mountain building involves many geological processes operating on a broad spectrum of spatial and temporal scales, shaped by interactions from the mantle to the biosphere and atmosphere. Mountains themselves document the deformational, magmatic and metamorphic history of plates, terrains and their boundaries, from the rifting of continents, to the spreading and closure of oceans, to the collision and partial subduction of continental lithosphere. Moreover, mountains provide constraints on the rates of orogenic processes, and how these interact with pre-orogenic structures. Geophysical sounding of the depths beneath mountains contributes to our understanding of the roles played by the lower crust, mantle lithosphere and asthenosphere during orogenesis. Near the surface, numerous geological disciplines reveal archives of the past and indicators of ongoing orogenic processes. These observations, together with modelling studies, are shaping our notions on the formation of natural resources and the assessment of natural hazards related to mountain building.

We aim to take the next step forward in understanding how mountain-building processes at the surface and at depth interact. This is clearly a multidisciplinary endeavour that involves integrating geophysical imaging of the Earth's lithosphere with geological studies of the Earth's restless interior and surface processes. The challenge is first-order because our knowledge of Earth is fragmentary, with limits both on resolving 3-D structures at depth, as well as on resolving events back in time, the fourth dimension. For juvenile orogens, this requires complementary datasets from the subsurface and the surface, including improved imaging techniques, and joint interpretation and quantification of results. To fill the observational gap in time, this requires detailed field studies to constrain erosional and exhumation rates, and to reconstruct crustal structure and kinematics, as well as their evolution. This will include using deeply eroded, ancient orogens with their exposure of mid- to deep crust as natural laboratories and proxies for ongoing processes at active orogenic margins. The collection of articles in this volume will combine these complementary avenues of research.

In this Research Topic we welcome multi-disciplinary and / or multi-perspective contributions on processes that govern the formation and destruction of mountain belts.
Specifically, we seek works that integrate exploration of multiple orogens, multiple methods, and / or multiple processes, to enhance the diversity of insights, innovations, and the utility of the resultant collection. In particular, we encourage manuscripts on:
• Comparing ancient and young orogens;
• Providing new information on the deformational and petrological history of orogens;
• Inverting geophysical datasets to image orogens from the surface to their roots;
• Modelling orogenesis and orogenic processes in 2-D and 3-D, and at various time scales;
• Understanding the role of water in short- and long-term processes (seismicity, rheology, metamorphism);
• Assessing natural hazards in mountainous areas.


Keywords: mountains, geology, geophysics, orogenic processes, natural laboratories


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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