"To understanding how mountain structures evolve through geologic time is no quick task because we are talking millions of years," said one of the researchers Eva Enkelmann from  University of Cincinnati in the US.

"There are two primary processes that result in the building and eroding of mountains and those processes are interacting," Enkelmann noted.

Looking at the St. Elias Mountains, Enkelmann noted how dry it is in the northern part of the mountain range. But the precipitation is very high in the southern area, resulting in more erosion and material coming off the southern flanks. So as the climate change influences the erosion, that can produce a shift in the tectonics.

The researchers found that the way a mountain range moves and behaves topographically can also change and create its local climate by redirecting wind and precipitation. The repercussions of these changes can in turn, accelerate the erosion and tectonic seismic activity of that mountain range.

As an example, Enkelmann cited the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964, the world's second largest earthquake recorded to date, that also resulted in a tsunami."Our biggest concern today is the continued potential for earthquakes that can also result in tsunamis," Enkelmann pointed out.

The findings were presented at the 2015 Annual Geological Society of America Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

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