Andesitic boulder deposits mantle straths cut in sedimentary bedrock high above the northern tributaries of the Escalante River in south-central Utah. The andesitic gravel deposits are derived from the southern escarpments of Boulder Mountain and Aquarius Plateau. The sedimentology and geomorphic expression of these deposits suggest they are from slurry-flow mass movements that have been reworked by fluvial processes. The andesitic boulders are significantly tougher than the local sedimentary bedrock and cause boulder armoring and topographic inversion. The andesitic boulders are also effective tools for fluvial incision when transported across weaker bedrock. Cosmogenic 3He exposure-age dating of some of the largest boulders exposed on the treads of four different deposits range from 303 ± 48 to 1395 ± 241 ka. The tallest boulders exposed on the deposit surfaces tend to yield the oldest exposure ages, suggesting that boulder erosion and deposit erosion are controlling the exposure-age populations and indicating that even the oldest exposure ages from a given deposit are likely minimum age estimates. Using the oldest exposure age from each surface, we estimate maximum Escalante River northern tributary incision rates of 151–323 m Ma−1 for the period since 0.6–1.4 Ma.
- Received 8 December 2011.
- Revision received 2 April 2012.
- Accepted 22 April 2012.
- © Geological Society of America