New insights on the origin of the Rocky Mountains

We had thought that the formation of the Rockys was well known, apparently not. This new research could have identified a possible mechanism– Deskarati

The formation of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado has always puzzled scientists. Some 600 miles inland and far removed from the nearest tectonic plate, the only comparable inland mountain range is the Himalaya, which scientists deduced were formed by the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate.

The new model hinges on an unusually thick lithosphere – the stiff part of the Earth’s surface that make up the tectonic plates – under Wyoming. The protrusion of this keel into more fluid mantle flowing below, created a suction that pulled down Southern Wyoming and Colorado and formed a basin, Jones said. This basin, or hole, in which Pierre Shale built up, amplified mountain-building forces far inland and forced the formation of the Rockies, he said. “A huge basin develops and all of a sudden these mountains come rocketing out of it,” Jones said. “We end up with the counter-intuitive visage of mountains rising up out of a hole. “

The hypothesis, if confirmed, could not only unravel the geological origin of the Rockies, but could also illuminate the mechanisms that have led to mountain ranges worldwide. “We are adding a new collection of processes that can control how mountain belts develop that previously haven’t really been appreciated,” Jones said. “Considering these processes might explain other puzzling mountain belts.”

via New insights on the origin of the Rocky Mountains.

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