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READING the LANDSCAPE of ESTES PARK Jim Cole, USGS With content from: Bob Anderson Alan Lester Univ. Colorado – Boulder and Bob Lillie, Oregon State Univ.

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Presentation on theme: "READING the LANDSCAPE of ESTES PARK Jim Cole, USGS With content from: Bob Anderson Alan Lester Univ. Colorado – Boulder and Bob Lillie, Oregon State Univ."— Presentation transcript:

1 READING the LANDSCAPE of ESTES PARK Jim Cole, USGS With content from: Bob Anderson Alan Lester Univ. Colorado – Boulder and Bob Lillie, Oregon State Univ Mummy Range view over Marys Lake

2 LANDSCAPE Elements and Processes ROCK FOUNDATIONS LANDFORMS DRAINAGE WEATHERING EROSION SEDIMENTATION GLACIATION View of Carter Lake west to Continental Divide Lake Estes

3 GEOLOGIC BASIS of REGIONAL LANDSCAPE FEATURES DIFFERENT ROCKS PRODUCE DIFFERENT: LANDFORMS SOILS DRAINAGE PATTERNS VEGETATION COVERS ECOSYSTEMS/HABITATS FAULTS and FOLDS EFFECT the DISTRIBUTION of ROCKS Estes Park Geologic Map Draped over Google Earth view

4 MOUNTAINS - WHY ARE THEY HERE? CONSTANTLY UNDER ATTACK FLOOD EROSION LANDSLIDE / SLUMP GLACIAL EROSION FROST WEDGING CHEMICAL DISSOLUTION WIND EROSION etc GRAVITY always WINS! Lawn Lake debris Flow Longs Peak from Lyons

5 GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE – millions and millions of years FORCES ACTING SLOWLY OVER VAST TIMESPANS CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS

6 WEATHERING – slow and steady LUMPY RIDGE STORY Fractures and joints make water pathways Frost wedging Leaching and oxidation LICHENS – Natures chemical weapons factories Corners – edges – faces BLOCKS become KNOBS LICHENS WEATHERED JOINTS

7 CONTINENTAL CRATON DEFORMED CRATON CONTINENTAL RIFT Laramide Uplifts Colorado Plateau Continental Platform Continental Shield Parks and Plates ©2005 Robert J. Lillie Basin and Range NATIONAL PARKS (in red) MOUNTAINS YOUNG AND OLD Estes Park

8 From: Messages in Stone: Colorados Colorful Geology, Edited by Vincent Matthews, Katie Keller-Lynn, and Betty Fox, 2003 LARAMIDE UPLIFT: MOUNTAIN FRONT WEST OF DENVER

9 BLOCK UPLIFT of the FRONT RANGE LONGS PEAK BOULDER

10 MOUNTAINS mean UPLIFT PIERRE SHALE DEPOSITED IN SHALLOW SEA NOW AT 5,000 FT AT BOULDER NOW AT 13,000 FT AT NOKHU CRAGS WHEN? FIRST STAGE 70 to 55 Ma EROSION, VOLCANOES SECOND STAGE 15 to 5 Ma EROSION ON-GOING Foothills Rolling Upland Glaciated Highland EP Boulder NOKHU CRAGS

11 EP Drake MOUNTAIN VALLEYS – Some are STRAIGHT and some are TWISTY OLD Big Thompson River course at Cedar Park Lyons STRAIGHT valleys (mostly) controlled by fractures TWISTY valleys (mostly) Inherited from old surface Lake Granby

12 FLOOD HAZARD in MOUNTAIN VALLEYS SUMMER THUNDERSTORM SYSTEM STALLED OVER THE FRONT RANGE 7.5 INCHES FELL IN ONE HOUR DURING EARLY EVENING GREATEST RAINFALL AT ABOUT 8,000 ft, NEAR TOP OF NARROW CANYON SECTION 140 LIVES LOST IN THE LOWER CANYON July 31, 1976 D EP

13 POWER OF MOVING WATER FLOODWATERS CONFINED TO NARROW CANYON VERY LITTLE FLOODPLAIN BEDROCK WALLS DID NOT ERODE FLOOD CREST FT DRAKE 1976DRAKE 2008 WALTONIA - Before AFTER the FLOOD After

14 GLACIATION CLIMATE CYCLES DUE TO: SUN-EARTH ORBIT SOLAR ENERGY VARIATIONS OCEAN CIRCULATION 1000 BC2000 ADBC/AD1000 AD OCEAN TEMP. ALETSCH GLACIER

15 GLACIAL LANDFORMS MAJOR GLACIAL STREAMS FLOW BY GRAVITY LATERAL AND TERMINAL MORAINES OF BOULDERY TILL MAXIMUM ICE/SNOW COVER 23,000 to 19,000 YEARS AGO North Park Boulder HP MP GG CL U-shaped valley FLAT-FLOORED PARKS FILLED WITH SAND/SILT OUTWASH KETTLE LAKES DOWNSTREAM END GENERALLY ABOUT 8,100 ft

16 FOLDED ROCKS OF THE OLD BASEMENT BASEMENT ROCKS (GNEISSES) SLOWLY HEATED AND SQUEEZED (BURIAL) DEFORMED AT GREAT PRESSURE AND TEMPERATURE (12 MILES) HOT ENOUGH TO BEGIN MELTING, SO HARD ROCKS BECOME PLASTIC GLACIERS ALSO FOLD BY SLOW, STEADY FLOW (SHEARING, MELTING, RECRYSTALLIZING) ABOUT 1,750 MILLION YEARS AGO ZIG-ZAG FOLDS IN GNEISS MALASPINA GLACIER, ALASKA WHITE BLOBS = MELTED ROCK

17 WATER in the WESTERN UNITED STATES RAINFALL MUCH LESS WEST OF 100 th MERIDIAN SNOWPACK NECESSARY FOR SUMMER IRRIGATION FIRST IN USE-FIRST IN RIGHT NEED FOR FEDERAL CAPITAL = COMPROMISES! MARYS LAKE PENSTOCKS COLORADO-BIG THOMPSON PROJECT


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