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 26, 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 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
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