Paleoaltimetry of the North American cordillera

Improving our knowledge of the topographic evolution of the North American cordilleraLobo Fm

Context: Current tectonic models for the build-up of the North American cordillera suffer from limited information about the timing of topographic build-up, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and in the American Southwest. The topographic evolution in these areas remain less understood than in California, Nevada, or Utah, and have not been integrated into a broader model for orogenic development.

This project aims to document the topographic evolution of several key mountain ranges in the northernmost and southernmost part of the North American cordillera to determine when was elevation attained relative to crustal deformation. It includes a vast program of stable and clumped isotopic measurements of pedogenic, lacustrine carbonates, volcanic glass, and lipid biomarkers to establish paleoelevation estimates in a temporal context by means of improved depositional ages of synorogenic deposits by U-Pb geochronology. These data will provide a new basis for interpreting the paleotopographic evolution of North America, and how it might have impacted regional climate and biota.

In the team: Hope Sisley (PhD student).

Collaborators: Jay Quade, Marie de Los Santos (University of Arizona, USA), Pete Copeland (University of Houston, USA), Tim Lawton (New Mexico State University, USA), Kate Huntington (University of Washington, USA).