Mantle-driven dynamic uplift of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau and its surface response: Toward a unified hypothesis

K.E. Karlstrom, D. Coblentz, K. Dueker, W. Ouimet, E. Kirby, J. Van Wijk, B. Schmandt, S. Kelley, G. Lazear, L.J. Crossey, R. Crow, A. Aslan (+12 others)
2012 Lithosphere  
The correspondence between seismic velocity anomalies in the crust and mantle and the differential incision of the continental-scale Colorado River system suggests that signifi cant mantle-to-surface interactions can take place deep within continental interiors. The Colorado Rocky Mountain region exhibits low-seismic-velocity crust and mantle associated with atypically high (and rough) topography, steep normalized river segments, and areas of greatest differential river incision.
more » ... ion. Thermochronologic and geologic data show that regional exhumation accelerated starting ca. 6-10 Ma, especially in regions underlain by low-velocity mantle. Integration and synthesis of diverse geologic and geophysical data sets support the provocative hypothesis that Neogene mantle convection has driven long-wavelength surface deformation and tilting over the past 10 Ma. Attendant surface uplift on the order of 500-1000 m may account for ~25%-50% of the current elevation of the region, with the rest achieved during Laramide and mid-Tertiary uplift episodes. This hypothesis highlights the importance of continued multidisciplinary tests of the nature and magnitude of surface responses to mantle dynamics in intraplate settings.
doi:10.1130/l150.1 fatcat:nul5wx2sxbewfe2uaddt5a5fnu