Late Eocene paleoaltitude, paleoclimate, and paleogeography of the Front Range region, Colorado.

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/185985
Title:
Late Eocene paleoaltitude, paleoclimate, and paleogeography of the Front Range region, Colorado.
Author:
Gregory, Kathryn Mary.
Issue Date:
1992
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Erosion beveled the Laramide Front Range uplift in Colorado to a surface of low relief by the end of the Eocene. This study uses paleobotanic climate analysis techniques to determine the paleoelevation of this regional surface by examining the overlying 34.9 Ma Florissant flora. Multiple regression models explaining 93.4% of the variance in mean annual temperature (MAT), 86.1% of the variance in growing season precipitation (GSP) and 65.7% of the variance in rainfall distribution were derived from J. A. Wolfe's dataset of 31 leaf physiognomic character states from 86 modern vegetation sites. When applied to a new collection of 29 species from the Florissant flora, estimates of MAT = 10.7 ± 1.5°C, and GSP = 55.6 ± 12.5 cm, with precipitation occurring mostly during the growing season, are derived. This paleoclimate estimate is corroborated by data from late Eocene Sequoia affinis from Florissant. Higher mean ring width of the fossil trees as compared to modern counterparts can be explained by a climate with summer mean monthly temperatures ≥ 14°C and summer mean monthly rainfall >1.5 cm. The estimated MAT, when combined with coeval sea level MAT and terrestrial lapse rate, implies an elevation of 2.3-3.3 km for Florissant, which is indistinguishable from the modern elevation of 2.5 km. The elevation of Florissant is tied to that of the Great Plains by the Wall Mountain Tuff, so the Great Plains were also high. The elevation was created either by underplating and/or mass transfer in the Laramide, or by mantle uplift of crust thickened by pre-Laramide tectonics. This elevation estimate implies that: (1) Pliocene uplift is not required to explain the present elevation. Thus, late Tertiary plateau uplift in the western US was not a contributing factor to the marked global cooling since 15 Ma; and (2) in the late Eocene, regional surfaces of planation could be formed at elevations significantly above sea level but below tree line. The surface was possibly formed from a lack of storminess; a preponderance of small storm events will diffusively smooth topography.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Paleoclimatology -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) -- Eocene.; Geology, Stratigraphic -- Eocene.; Paleogeography -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) -- Eocene.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Geosciences; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Chase, Clement G.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleLate Eocene paleoaltitude, paleoclimate, and paleogeography of the Front Range region, Colorado.en_US
dc.creatorGregory, Kathryn Mary.en_US
dc.contributor.authorGregory, Kathryn Mary.en_US
dc.date.issued1992en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractErosion beveled the Laramide Front Range uplift in Colorado to a surface of low relief by the end of the Eocene. This study uses paleobotanic climate analysis techniques to determine the paleoelevation of this regional surface by examining the overlying 34.9 Ma Florissant flora. Multiple regression models explaining 93.4% of the variance in mean annual temperature (MAT), 86.1% of the variance in growing season precipitation (GSP) and 65.7% of the variance in rainfall distribution were derived from J. A. Wolfe's dataset of 31 leaf physiognomic character states from 86 modern vegetation sites. When applied to a new collection of 29 species from the Florissant flora, estimates of MAT = 10.7 ± 1.5°C, and GSP = 55.6 ± 12.5 cm, with precipitation occurring mostly during the growing season, are derived. This paleoclimate estimate is corroborated by data from late Eocene Sequoia affinis from Florissant. Higher mean ring width of the fossil trees as compared to modern counterparts can be explained by a climate with summer mean monthly temperatures ≥ 14°C and summer mean monthly rainfall >1.5 cm. The estimated MAT, when combined with coeval sea level MAT and terrestrial lapse rate, implies an elevation of 2.3-3.3 km for Florissant, which is indistinguishable from the modern elevation of 2.5 km. The elevation of Florissant is tied to that of the Great Plains by the Wall Mountain Tuff, so the Great Plains were also high. The elevation was created either by underplating and/or mass transfer in the Laramide, or by mantle uplift of crust thickened by pre-Laramide tectonics. This elevation estimate implies that: (1) Pliocene uplift is not required to explain the present elevation. Thus, late Tertiary plateau uplift in the western US was not a contributing factor to the marked global cooling since 15 Ma; and (2) in the late Eocene, regional surfaces of planation could be formed at elevations significantly above sea level but below tree line. The surface was possibly formed from a lack of storminess; a preponderance of small storm events will diffusively smooth topography.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectPaleoclimatology -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) -- Eocene.en_US
dc.subjectGeology, Stratigraphic -- Eocene.en_US
dc.subjectPaleogeography -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) -- Eocene.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGeosciencesen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairChase, Clement G.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBaker, Victor R.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberConey, Peter J.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberParrish, Judith Totmanen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSwetnam, Thomas W.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest9307650en_US
dc.identifier.oclc701720159en_US
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