The Clean SWEEP of the Rocky Mountains – #365papers – 2017 – 50

#365papers for February 19, 2017

Chamberlain, Mix, Mulch, Hren, Kent-Corson, Davis, Horton, and Graham, 2012, The Cenozoic climatic and topographic evolution of the western North American cordillera: American Journal of Science, v. 312, p. 213-262.

What’s it about?

This paper uses a compilation of new and previously published oxygen stable isotope data from all over the Rocky Mountain region to understand the timing and uplift pattern of the Rocky Mountains. It seems that the Rocky Mountains first rose to the north, then grew southward.

Why does it matter?

Oxygen isotopes in the rock and mineral samples they were studying are related to oxygen isotopes in ancient precipitation – the rain and snow that was falling when the rocks and minerals were forming. Oxygen isotopes in the original precipitation vary due to the position and height of nearby mountains.

Since the mountains were just coming up at the time the rocks and minerals were being formed, and the ages can be determined by independent dating techniques, we can thus understand how the mountains grew.

Why did I read this?

I’m doing research in one of the basins used in this study, during the same time interval. I was interested in knowing where the data came from so I could use it in comparison to the data I’ve generated.

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