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Geologic map of the Fort Collins 30'×60' quadrangle, Larimer and Jackson Counties, Colorado, and Albany and Laramie Counties, Wyoming

November 8, 2018

The rocks and landforms of the Fort Collins 30 × 60 1:100,000-scale U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle reveals a particularly complete record of geologic history in the northern Front Range of Colorado. The Proterozoic basement rocks exposed in the core of the range preserve evidence of Paleoproterozoic marine sedimentation, volcanism, and regional soft-sediment deformation, followed by regional folding and gradational metamorphism. Mesoproterozoic time was marked by intrusion of the Berthoud Plutonic Suite into crust that was structurally neutral or moderately extending in an east-northeast direction.

Evidence of the late Paleozoic Anasazi uplift (Ancestral Rocky Mountains uplift) within the quadrangle is recorded by removal of Permian and older sediments and deposition of proximal Pennsylvanian and Permian strata unconformably onto the exhumed Proterozoic basement rocks. The Phanerozoic sediments indicate a steady progression of fluvial, eolian, and lacustrine environments throughout most of the Mesozoic Era which was a time of relatively slow sediment accumulation. Early Cretaceous time was marked by incursion of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, a shallow-water marine embayment that persisted throughout the latter part of the Mesozoic Era. Sedimentation rates increased significantly in the latter part of this period during down-warping related to distant crustal loading by thrusting along the western continental margin.

With onset of the Laramide orogeny in latest Cretaceous time, mountain building resumed in this region. This deformation placed Proterozoic rock over Cretaceous and Paleocene strata along the western margin of the Front Range and Medicine Bow Mountains. Post-Laramide time was marked by a prolonged period of weathering, erosion, and planation of the basement-rock surface, extending perhaps into late Oligocene or early Miocene time.

Erosion on the eastern slope of the Front Range in late Paleogene to early Neogene time produced a broad, rolling surface surrounding residual highlands and east-trending fluvial channels filled with coarse, boulder gravel.

Significant global cooling during the Pliocene led to glaciation during the Quaternary. In the Rocky Mountain region, renewed uplift allowed erosion to accentuate the topographic relief across the high mountains of the map area and established the elevations necessary to trigger accumulation of persistent snow and ice. Mountain glaciers advanced and retreated during at least three glacial-interglacial cycles during the middle and late Pleistocene in this area.

Erosion continues to this day on the High Plains east of the mountain front, and progressive incision of the drainage is recorded by at least five major gravel-clad terrace and pediment surfaces along the major fluvial channels that connect to the South Platte River system.

Publication Year 2018
Title Geologic map of the Fort Collins 30'×60' quadrangle, Larimer and Jackson Counties, Colorado, and Albany and Laramie Counties, Wyoming
DOI 10.3133/sim3399
Authors Jeremiah B. Workman, James C. Cole, Ralph R. Shroba, Karl S. Kellogg, Wayne R. Premo
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Map
Series Number 3399
Index ID sim3399
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center