Deep mantle forces and the uplift of the Colorado Plateau

Robert Moucha, Alessandro M. Forte, David B. Rowley, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Nathan A. Simmons, Stephen P. Grand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


We introduce a quantitative model of global mantle convection that reconstructs the detailed motion of a warm mantle upwelling over the last 30 Ma towards the interior of the southwestern USA from observed present-day mantle heterogeneity. The onset and evolution of uplift in the central Basin and Range province and Colorado Plateau during this time is determined by tracking the topographic swell due to this mantle upwelling. We show that: (1) the extension and basaltic volcanism (post 25 Ma) in the central Basin and Range coincides with the arrival and eastward progression of this upwelling, and (2) dynamic uplift of the southern Colorado Plateau, totaling about 1 km, transpired in the last 20 Ma. Since 10 Ma, the center of uplift continued northeastward from the southwestern rim of the plateau consistent with a young Grand Canyon model and eastward sweep of magmatism in the western Colorado Plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL19310
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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