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Colorado Plateau

May 12, 1987

Field studies in the Colorado Plateau occupy an honored place in the development of geomorphic theory. The purpose of this chapter is to briefly review the foundational, regional, and process-oriented studies in the region, and to provide a review of promising threads of inquiry set in a context of more than a century of geomorphologic research in the region.

The Colorado Plateau has sharply defined boundaries that separate it from neighboring geomorphic provinces (Fig. 1; for details see Thornbury, 1965). On the west, faults and the perimeters of volcanic plateaus mark the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province. The boundary extends across the southern edge of the plateau where it is less radically defined, but is nonetheless visible on the surface in the form of an uplifted edge of sedimentary rocks known as the Mogollon Rim, which extends from northwest Arizona diagonally into north-central New Mexico. The eastern and northern boundaries are delineated by the contact between sedimentary rocks and upthrust or folded crystalline rocks of the Rocky Mountains.

The plateau is a definable tectonic unit relatively easily separated from other provinces, but it shows considerable internal variation (Fig. 1; for details see Hunt, 1974a). The interior of the kidney-shaped Colorado Plateau Province reveals a series of subsections that depend on geologic and geomorphologic definition. The centrally located Canyon Lands Section is dominated by gently folded sedimentary rocks, while the western High Plateaus Section reveals widespread accumulations of volcanic materials.

Publication Year 1987
Title Colorado Plateau
DOI 10.1130/DNAG-CENT-v2.259
Authors William L. Graf, Richard Hereford, Julie Laity, Richard A. Young
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70210060
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse