Geologic history of the Colorado River: Chapter C in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)

Professional Paper 669-C
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Abstract

John Wesley Powell clearly recognized that the spectacular features of the Colorado River - its many grand canyons - were dependent upon the structural history of the mountainous barriers crossed by the river. He conceived of three different historical relationships between rivers and structural features: (1) Newly uplifted land surfaces have rivers that flow down the initial slope of the uplift; these relationships he termed consequent. (2) A river may be older than an uplift that it crosses because it has been able to maintain its course by eroding downward as the uplift progresses; this relationship he named antecedent. (3) An uplifted block may have been buried by younger deposits upon which a river becomes established. The river, in cutting downward, uncovers the uplifted block and becomes incised into it; this relationship he called superimposed.

The geologic history of the Colorado River involves all three relationships. In addition, although the position of the river course through a particular structural barrier may have been the result of superposition, the depth of the canyon at that point may be largely due to renewed uplift of the barrier; such deepening of the canyon, therefore, is due to antecedence. The problem of the Colorado River remains today very much as G. K. Gilbert stated it nearly 100 years ago: "How much is antecedent and how much is superimposed?" The question must be asked separately for each stretch of the river.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geologic history of the Colorado River: Chapter C in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 669
Chapter C
DOI 10.3133/pp669C
Year Published 1969
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description iv, 72 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)
First page 59
Last page 130
Country United States
Other Geospatial Colorado River
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