Good Research Paper About When Did The Southern Rocky Mountain Rise?
The Southern Rocky Mountains is a major sub region in the Rocky Mountains range. It is situated in the southern region of Wyoming. Mountain peaks in this mountain range are some of the highest points in the entire Rocky Mountains. Scholars have explored different perspectives regarding the Rocky Mountains range as a whole, and specifically the Southern Rocky Mountains. One of the main perspectives explored is the manner in which the Rocky Mountains were formed. This relates to the explanations for the different landforms that are witnessed in the Rocky Mountains.
While there has been a consensus among some scholar communities, others have preferred divergent opinions. It is not any different when the perspectives on when the Rocky Mountains range as a whole and specifically the Southern Rocky Mountains began to rise or form. Different scholars hold different viewpoints regarding the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Even though some of the scholars have adduced evidence pinpointing the range in terms of years, others have been comfortable adducing a certain era.
In holding these viewpoints, the scholars have adduced a battery of evidence, some from derivative theorization and others from the test an analysis of samples. All on all, they look convincing in supporting the time or era for which they say the Southern Rocky Mountains began rising. The clarity in the distinction between these varying arguments cannot be adequately established because of limited information on the matter. Nonetheless, the paper will highlight and discuss the perspectives of different scholars regarding the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains.
According to one of the scholars, the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains began in the post-middle Eocene time (Eaton 765). As highlighted earlier, different scholars present evidence to support their viewpoints regarding when the Southern Rocky Mountains began to rise. When the erosion surface in the Southern Rocky Mountains is subdivided and analyzed, the description of these erosion surfaces in terms of history supports the argument by Eaton that the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains began in the post-middle Eocene time.
In this analysis, the scholar found that the erosion surface analysis indicated that the there was a history of two significant periods namely the Eocene and Miocene periods. One of the erosion subdivisions that was analyzed showed a drain Eastwards during the Eocene time and another northeastwards during the Miocene time (Eaton 765). In his conception, (Eaton 765) argues that this evidence shows epeirogenic activity that occasioned the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains. This is vividly seen in his theses as he writes, “the focus of this paper is on this epeirogen, uplift of which took place chiefly in post–middle Eocene time and later” (Eaton 766). His findings are consistent with this explanation of other landforms around the Southern Rocky Mountains.
For instance, (Eaton 768) argues that the Colorado Plateau was formed by the lifting (Sahagian, Proussevitch Carlson 807) of and compression buckling of the Farallon plate. Besides the manner in which this lifting occurs, (Eaton 768) also argues that this also occurred in the post-middle Eocene time. By association, owing to the fact that these two landforms are located in the same geographical zone, experiencing the same geological forces, it is fathomable (Eaton 765) argues that the Southern Rocky Mountains began rising during the post-middle Eocene time
Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton use their theory of mid-tertiary magmatism to explain the elevation of the Southern Rocky Mountains. In doing so, they also explain the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains, especially on the aspect of time. Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton (285) explore the effect of the mid-tertiary magmatism that was experienced in the Southern Rocky Mountains. As they write, “in the Southern Rocky Mountains, mid-tertiary volcanism occurred discontinuously throughout much of Colorado and New Mexico” (Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton 285).
While this paper majorly focuses on the source and volume of magma and the resultant volcanic activity in the Southern Rocky Mountains, it forms a basis upon which other scholars explore the aspect of time in the explanation of the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains. However, by applying knowledge on the presence and the volume of magma in the Southern Rocky Mountains as argued by Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton (285), it is fathomable that the volcanic activity which majorly led to caldera formation due to the lateral compression of hot magma from the core could have occasion an elevation of various peaks (Bailley 56).
This is because when the magma is ejected due to the upwelling in the core of the Southern Rocky Mountains, the cooling of the same on the surface resulted in an elevation. Additionally, it is important to consider the fact that the volume of mid-tertiary magma beneath the Southern Rocky Mountains is in keeping with any arguments of the arguments associating this mid-tertiary magma beneath the Southern Rocky Mountains with the elevation experience in the region.
As highlighted earlier, the perspectives of Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton form a basis upon which other scholars base their time on when the Southern Rocky Mountains began rising. Gregory & Chase conducted a multiple regression of data on paleotemperature, sea-level temperature as well as terrestrial lapse rate in order to explain the paleoelevation of between 2.4 kilometers and 2.7 kilometers experienced during the late Eocene period. Gregory & Chase (281) posit that the, “Pliocene uplift is thus not required to explain the present elevation of 2.5 kilometers.”
As highlighted earlier, there is insufficient information on this period for sustaining arguments on the time and manner in which different land forms occurred. In keeping with this supposition, Gregory & Chase (281) find that the period during which the Southern Rocky Mountains achieved the elevation of 2.5 kilometers (Pelletier 4) that the mountain range has is not very clear. Nonetheless, Gregory & Chase vindicate arguments by Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton that, “Magmaitc crustural thickening can explain the late Eocene elevation of the Southern Rockies” (Gregory & Chase 281).
Depending on the school of thought, the naming of these periods might have been different in general even thought the implication was similar. For instance, the post-middle Eocene time used by (Eaton 765) is quite similar to the late Eocene time used by Gregory & Chase (281). Secondly, the findings of Gregory & Chase (281) that “Magmaitc crustural thickening can explain the late Eocene elevation of the Southern Rockies” vindicates the arguments by Farmer, Bailley & Elkins-Tanton (285) that the mid-tertiary magmatism and volcanic activity were arguably responsible for the elevation experienced in the Southern Rocky Mountains.
In explaining the probable time when the Southern Rocky Mountains began their elevation, this paper identified some constraints. Firstly, there were many perspectives held by different scholars as derived from the different models that were used to acquire evidence to back their perspectives and suppositions. However, there was insufficient historical information regarding this period, and as such, any new findings using the different models by these scholars has not historical base upon which comparisons can be made. Even with these constraints, the scholars have attempted to reconstruct historical information through the use of different models and through theorization. Some of these theories have been vindicated through the work of others.
The aim of writing this paper was to determine when the Southern Rocky mountains gained their elevation. The scholarly work explored in this paper presents different perspectives as derived from the different models and approaches used. There is a consensus that he elevation of the Southern Rocky mountains started in the late Eocene or the post-middle Eocene time. The paper has also established that there is no significant difference between the late Eocene or the post-middle Eocene time as used by the two scholars. This is notwithstanding the different approaches and models thorough which these conclusions were made. Based on these findings, and acknowledging the constraints in information, the paper concludes that the rise of the Southern Rocky Mountains happened in the late Eocene period.
Bailley, Treasure. A reevaluation of the origin of late Cretaceous and younger magmatism in the southern Rocky Mountain region using space-time-composition patterns in volcanic rocks and geochemical studies of mantle xenoliths, University of Colorado. Colorado. 2010. Print.
Eaton, Gordon. Epeirogeny in the Southern Rocky Mountains region: Evidence and origin. Geosphere. 4 (2008): 764-784. Print.
Farmer, Lang., Bailley, Treasure and Elkins-Tanton, Linda. Mantle source volumes and the origin of the mid-tertiary ignimbrite flare-up in the Souther Rocky Mountains, western U.S. Lithos 102 (2008): 279-294. Print.
Gregory, Kathryn and Chase, Clement. Tectonic significance of the paleobotanically estimated climate and altitude of the late Eocene surface, Colorado. Geology. 20 (1992) 581-585
Pelletier, Jon. The impact of snowmelt on the late Cenozoic landscape of the southern Rocky Mountains, USA. GSA Today, 19(2009): 4-11. Print.
Sahagian, Dork., Proussevitch, Alex. and Carlson, William. Timing of Colorado plateau uplift: Initial constraints from vesicular basal-derived paleoelevations. Geology. 30 (2002) 807- 810. Print.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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