Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Did Melting Snow Shape America's Southern Rocky Mountains?

Date:
July 2, 2009
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
Is it possible that something as insubstantial and transitory as snow could be responsible for large scale vertical movements of Earth's surface and the excavation of deeply incised gorges?

Is it possible that something as insubstantial and transitory as snow could be responsible for large scale vertical movements of Earth's surface and the excavation of deeply incised gorges?

Extensive regions of the southern Rocky Mountains of the Southwestern United States have experienced more than 1.5 km of erosion over the past 10 million years, including the development of deeply incised canyons almost a kilometer deep. And while climate change has been suspected of having a role in the removal of vast volumes of Earth's crust, determining the specific processes responsible for the large scale erosion has proved problematic.

In this month's GSA Today article, John Pelletier of the University of Arizona has identified the likely culprit -- snow.

Pelletier demonstrates that as the global climate system cooled, the fraction of total river discharge derived from snowmelt increased significantly. The result was a huge increase in the magnitude and frequency of highly erosive floods. Snowmelt descending down from heights of 1.5 to 3.0 km swept across the Intermontane basins, removing kilometers of rock and cutting deep gorges into the large, flat-lying basins, while the surrounding mountain peaks were left largely intact.

Pelletier's research, demonstrating that something as fragile as snowflakes could be responsible for the chasms that slice through the Bighorn and adjacent basins, highlights the challenges involved in understanding our finely balanced Earth system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon D. Pelletier. The impact of snowmelt on the late Cenozoic landscape of the southern Rocky Mountains, USA. GSA Today, 2009; DOI: 10.1130/GSATG44A.1

Cite This Page:

Geological Society of America. "Did Melting Snow Shape America's Southern Rocky Mountains?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630205159.htm>.
Geological Society of America. (2009, July 2). Did Melting Snow Shape America's Southern Rocky Mountains?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630205159.htm
Geological Society of America. "Did Melting Snow Shape America's Southern Rocky Mountains?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630205159.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Reuters - US Online Video (July 26, 2014) A giant wall of dust slowly moves north over the Phoenix area after a summer monsoon thunderstorm. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins