The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and associated co-seismic landslide was the most recent expression of the rapid deformation and erosion occurring in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. The erosion associated with co-seismic landslides balances the long-term tectonic uplift in the topographic evolution of the region; however, the quantitative relationship between earthquakes, uplift, and erosion is still unknown. In order to quantitatively distinguish the seismically-induced erosion in the total erosion, here, we quantify the Wenchuan earthquake-induced erosion using the digital elevation model (DEM) differential method and previously-reported landslide volumes. Our results show that the seismically-induced erosion is comparable with the pre-earthquake short-term erosion. The seismically-induced erosion rate contributes ~50% of the total erosion rate, which suggests that the local topographic evolution of the middle Longmen Shan region may be closely related to tectonic events, such as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. We propose that seismically-induced erosion is a very important component of the total erosion, particularly in active orogenic regions. Our results demonstrate that the remote sensing technique of differential DEM provides a powerful tool for evaluating the volume of co-seismic landslides produced in intermountain regions by strong earthquakes.
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