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The Colorado River and its deposits downstream from Grand Canyon in Arizona, California, and Nevada

February 5, 2018

Understanding the evolution of the Colorado River system has direct implications for (1) the processes and timing of continental-scale river system integration, (2) the formation of iconic landscapes like those in and around Grand Canyon, and (3) the availability of groundwater resources. Spatial patterns in the position and type of Colorado River deposits, only discernible through geologic mapping, can be used to test models related to Colorado River evolution. This is particularly true downstream from Grand Canyon where ancestral Colorado River deposits are well-exposed. We are principally interested in (1) regional patterns in the minimum and maximum elevation of each depositional unit, which are affected by depositional mechanism and postdepositional deformation; and (2) the volume of each unit, which reflects regional changes in erosion, transport efficiency, and accommodation space. The volume of Colorado River deposits below Grand Canyon has implications for groundwater resources, as the primary regional aquifer there is composed of those deposits. To this end, we are presently mapping Colorado River deposits and compiling and updating older mapping. This preliminary data release shows the current status of our mapping and compilation efforts. We plan to update it at regular intervals in conjunction with ongoing mapping.