Rio Grande

My Master’s thesis resolved our understanding of mantle dynamics beneath the southwest United States through an intensive study of the incision history of the Rio Grande. Differential incision over both time and space may indicate dynamic topography when factors like climate change, lithologic strength, and erosion have also been evaluated as possible causes. I found that the long-term evolution of the Rio Grande was most heavily influenced by tectonics related to the post-30 Ma Rio Grande rift, broad-scale epeirogenic uplift of the southern Rocky Mountains, and altered topography as a result of volcanic activity. Rapid rates of incision after 640 ka are attributed to a wetter, more dynamic climate.

Rio Grande Incising into 2-5 Ma basalts on the Taos Plateau in northern New Mexico
Rio Grande Incising into 2-5 Ma basalts on the Taos Plateau in northern New Mexico

 

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