Bringing Up Baby (Mountains) in Western North America – #365papers – 2018 – 59

Yonkee and Weil, 2015, Tectonic evolution of the Sevier and Laramide belts within the North American Cordillera orogenic system: Earth-Science Reviews: v. 150, p. 531-593

What’s it about?

This paper is a wonderful, yet highly technical, summary of the tectonic events leading to the Rocky Mountains as we know them today.

Why does it matter?

A complete understanding of how the Rocky Mountains of North America formed helps us understand the continued growth and development of actively rising mountain belts on Earth, making improved assessments of risks and resources possible.

Why did I read this?

The first author Adolph Yonkee is speaking in our department tomorrow. I’ll have to miss his lecture, so I decided to read this paper to make up for it. Admittedly, the paper is a bit longer than I had time to read in detail, but the figures are fantastic!

What did I learn?

I gleaned a lot from my rapid read, but one thing that stands out is that the Sevier deformation (thin-skinned thrusting) occurred in thicker passive margin sediments, whereas the Laramide deformation (thick-skinned, basement-involved thrusting) occurred where sediments only thinly overlaid Precambrian basement rocks.

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