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Earth History GEOL 2110. The Cenozoic Era The Modern World Emerges Tectonics. Major Concepts.

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earth history geol 2110

Earth History GEOL 2110

The Cenozoic Era

The Modern World Emerges


major concepts
Major Concepts
  • The volcanic null that corresponded with the LaramideOrogeny starting in the late Cretaceous ended in the late Eocene epoch (~40Ma) with the resumption of arc magmatism along the western margin of NA
  • Starting in the Miocene (~20Ma), the collision of the East Pacific Rise created a transform boundary between the Pacific and NA plates; this brought on the Basin and Range-style extension tectonics, the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, the creation of the Rio Grande Rift, and shift in the motion of the Pacific plate
  • The collision of India and various microcontinentsspalled from Gondwana’s break-up closed the Tethy’s Sea and created the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt
early cenozoic 66 40 ma paleocene mid eocene
Early Cenozoic (66-40 Ma)Paleocene - Mid-Eocene


Block uplift of the Precambrian basement

sedimentation in laramide intermontane basins
Sedimentation in LaramideIntermontane Basins






Coal Seams in the Powder River Basin, WY

LacustrineShales of the Green River Basin, UT

LacustrineShales Marls Bryce Canyon NP, UT

middle cenozoic 40 20 ma late eocene oligocene mid miocene
Middle Cenozoic (40-20 Ma)Late Eocene – Oligocene – Mid-Miocene

Resumption of continental volcanic arc magmatism as subduction of the Farallon Plate steepens

Tectonics during the Oligocene (~30 Ma)

middle cenozoic 40 20 ma san juan volcanic field
Middle Cenozoic (40-20 Ma)San Juan Volcanic Field

La Garita Caldera (28Ma)

San Luis Tuff, Wheeler Geologic Monument

middle cenozoic 40 20 ma burial and exhumation of the laramide mountains
Middle Cenozoic (40-20 Ma)Burial and Exhumation of the Laramide Mountains

LaramideMtns Exhumed


35 Ma

LaramideMtns Re-Buried


Post- LaramideOrogeny

57 Ma

LaramideMtns Buried

15 Ma

LaramideMtns Re-Exhumed

50 Ma

laramide sediments and volcanic ash spreads across the great plains
Laramide Sediments and Volcanic Ash Spreads across the Great Plains

Eocene – Oligocene fluvial sediments of the White River Group,

Badlands, SD

late cenozoic 20 0 ma mid miocene pliocene pleistocene holocene
Late Cenozoic (20-0 Ma)Mid-Miocene – Pliocene –Pleistocene - Holocene

Mid-Miocene (~15 Ma)

Pliocene (~5 Ma)

Collision of East Pacific Rise with NA plate creates the San Andreas Transform Fault System, Basin and Range Province, Colorado Plateau and Rio Grand Rift

basin and range province extensional thinning of the crust
Basin and Range ProvinceExtensional Thinning of the Crust

Sevier Deformation

Listric Normal Faults

basin and range province extensional thinning of the crust2
Basin and Range ProvinceExtensional Thinning of the Crust

Extension due to mantle upwelling in area of Slab Gap


Basin and Range Province Extensional Thinning of the Crust

As the SA transform boundary grows, Basin and Range Extension migrates to the North. Establishment of rift zone in the Gulf of California kills extension in the southern Basin and Range.

the slicing and dicing of california
The Slicing and Dicing of California

Narrow fault –bound basins rapidly fill with great thickness of sediment that are simultaneously deformed (e.g., Ventura Basin)

Pliocene (~5 Ma)

columbia river basalts snake river basalts and the yellowstone hotspot
Columbia River Basalts, Snake River Basalts, and the Yellowstone Hotspot

Edge of Craton

NA Drift



mantle plume generated volcanism
Mantle Plume-Generated Volcanism

Columbia River Basalts

Yellowstone Hydrothermal Field

Newberry Rhyolite

passive margins east and south
Passive Margins East and South

Erosion of North America – River and Deltaic Deposits

Triassic-sourced Halite Deposits

Pangea Break-up – Shallow Marine Deposits

passive margins east and south1
Passive Margins East and South

Rejuvenation of the Appalachians

the closing of the tethys sea1

25 Ma

The Closing of the Tethys Sea

5-6 Ma

Mediteranean Dries Up -Evaporites

4 Ma

Straits of Gibraltar open up