Landscape Evolution in the United States

Landscape Evolution in the United States

An Introduction to the Geography, Geology, and Natural History

1st Edition - December 21, 2012

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  • Author: Joseph DiPietro
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123977991
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123978066

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Landscape Evolution in the United States is an accessible text that balances interdisciplinary theory and application within the physical geography, geology, geomorphology, and climatology of the United States. Landscape evolution refers to the changing terrain of any given area of the Earth's crust over time. Common causes of evolution (or geomorphology—land morphing into a different size or shape over time) are glacial erosion and deposition, volcanism, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, sediment transport into rivers, landslides, climate change, and other surface processes. The book is divided into three main parts covering landscape components and how they are affected by climactic, tectonic and ocean systems; varying structural provinces including the Cascadia Volcanic Arc and California Transpressional System; and the formation and collapse of mountain systems. The vast diversity of terrain and landscapes across the United States makes this an ideal tool for geoscientists worldwide who are researching the country’s geological evolution over the past several billion years.

Key Features

  • Presents the complexities of physical geography, geology, geomorphology, and climatology of the United States through an interdisciplinary, highly accessible approach
  • Offers more than 250 full-color figures, maps and photographs that capture the systematic interaction of land, rock, rivers, glaciers, global wind patterns and climate
  • Provides a thorough assessment of the logic, rationale, and tools required to understand how to interpret landscape and the geological history of the Earth
  • Features exercises that conclude each chapter, aiding in the retention of key concepts


Geologists, Exploration Geologists, Geographers, Geomorphologists, Climatologists, and Land Managers conducting research and working in industry, particularly with U.S. Geological Surveys nationwide, GPS/GIS companies as well as Oil & Gas companies. Undergraduate students in the Geosciences, particularly those taking coursework in geomorphology/physical geology and landscape evolution

Table of Contents

  • Preface



    Part I: Keys to Understanding Landscape Evolution

    Chapter 1. The Tortoise and the Hare

    How Slow is Slow?

    Maps, Cross-sections, and Scale

    The Face of the United States

    Across the Great Divide

    Components, Mechanisms, and Variables That Impart Change on a Landscape

    Chapter 2. Component: The Rock/Sediment Type

    Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

    Rocks and Unconsolidated Sediment

    The Influence of Bedrock on a Landscape

    Karst Landscape

    Distribution of Rock/Sediment Type Among the US Physiographic Provinces

    Chapter 3. Component: The Structural Form

    Style of Rock Deformation (Structure)

    Influence of Geologic Structure on Landscape

    The Response of Dipping Layers to Erosional Lowering

    The Shape of Land vs. the Shape of Rock Structure

    Chapter 4. Mechanisms That Impart Change to Landscapes

    Uplift and Subsidence

    Erosion and Deposition



    Chapter 5. Forcing Variable: The Tectonic System

    Fire and Ice

    The Tectonic System

    The Atlantic Passive Continental Margin

    The Pacific Active Continental Margin

    Tectonic Accretion, Underplating, and Suture Zones

    Thermal Plumes and Hot Spots

    Tekton: The Carpenter, The Builder

    Chapter 6. Forcing Variable: The Climatic System

    Present-Day Climate Zones

    Controls on Climate

    A Daughter of the Snows: The Continental Glaciation

    Alpine Glaciation

    Chapter 7. Forcing Variables: Sea Level and Isostasy

    Sea-Level Changes

    River Response to Sea-Level changes

    Isostasy and Isostatic Equilibrium

    Tectonic Versus Isostatic Uplift/Subsidence

    Chapter 8. Interaction of Tectonics, Climate, and Time

    Structure-Controlled versus Erosion-Controlled Landscapes

    Thresholds and Reincarnation

    A Classification of Structural Provinces

    A Structural Overview of the Four Physiographic Regions

    Part II: Structural Provinces

    Chapter 9. Unconsolidated Sediment

    The Nebraska Sand Hills Region and the Ogallala Aquifer

    The Atlantic and Gulf Coast Shoreline

    Ancient Shorelines of the Coastal Plain

    The Pacific Coast

    Chapter 10. Nearly Flat-Lying Sedimentary Layers

    Overview of the Interior Plains and Plateaus Region and the Coastal Plain

    Overview of the Great Plains and Wyoming Basin

    Bench-and-Slope Landscape

    The Colorado Plateau

    The Interior Low Plateaus

    Erosional Mountains of the Appalachian Plateau

    Ozark Plateau

    Fractures in Nearly Flat-Lying Layers on the Colorado Plateau

    The Coastal Plain

    Chapter 11. Crystalline-Cored Mid-Continent Anticlines and Domes

    The Adirondack Mountains

    The St. Francois Mountains

    The Wichita, Arbuckle, and Llano Structural Domes

    The Northwestern Great Plains

    Crystalline-Cored Dome Mountains on the Colorado Plateau and the Colorado Mineral Belt

    The Middle and Southern Rocky Mountains

    The Wind River and Bighorn Mountain Ranges

    The Black Hills

    Water Gaps in the Rocky Mountains

    Chapter 12. Foreland Fold-and-Thrust Belts

    The Cordilleran (Sevier) Fold-and-Thrust Belt

    The Appalachian Fold-and-Thrust Belt

    The Ouachita and Marathon Fold-and-Thrust Belts

    Water Gaps in the Valley and Ridge and Ouachita Mountains

    Chapter 13. Crystalline Deformation Belts

    The Crystalline Appalachians

    Erosional History of the Appalachian Mountains

    The Fall Line

    The Blue Ridge Escarpment

    The Northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascades

    The Superior Upland Crystalline Province

    Chapter 14. Young Volcanic Rocks of the Cordillera

    Magma Types and Lava Domes

    The Columbia River Plateau

    The Snake River Plain

    Cordilleran Volcanic Areas Between 60 and 20 Million Years Old

    Cordilleran Volcanic Areas Younger Than 20 Million Years

    Chapter 15. Normal Fault-Dominated Landscapes

    The Basin and Range

    Rio Grande Rift

    The Teton Range

    The Wasatch Mountains

    Triassic Lowlands of the Appalachian Mountains

    Chapter 16. Cascadia Volcanic Arc System

    The Coast Range and Valleys

    The Olympic Mountains

    The Klamath Mountains

    The Cascade Mountains

    The Central-Southern Cascade Mountains

    Chapter 17. California Transpressional System

    The San Andreas Fault System

    Displacement Along the San Andreas Fault

    The History of the San Andreas Fault System

    A Relict Subduction Zone Landscape

    The Formation of Transpressional Structures

    The Transverse Ranges and the Salton Sea

    Rotation of the Transverse Block

    The Eastern California–Walker Lane Belt

    The Coast Ranges

    Peninsular Ranges

    The Sierra Nevada

    Chapter 18. The Story of the Grand Canyon

    The Physiographic Canyon

    Why Less than Six Million Years?


    The Great Deformation and Paleoelevation

    Recent Incision Rates

    Exhumation Ages

    A Pre-Six-Million-Year Theory on the Cutting of the Canyon

    Water Gaps

    Part III: Mountain Building

    Chapter 19. Early Theories on the Origin of Mountain Belts

    Chapter 20. Keys to the Interpretation of Geological History

    Geologic Field Mapping

    How Rocks Reveal History

    Fossils, Cross-Cutting Relationships, and the Geologic Time Scale



    Volcanic Arc Complexes

    Ophiolite, Subduction Complexes, and Collision

    Recognition of Crystalline Basement

    Radiometric Dating (Geochronology)

    Pre-, Syn-, Post-, and Intra-

    Detrital Zircon Geochronology

    Fault and Belt Terminology

    Chapter 21. Tectonic Style, Rock Successions, and Tectonic Provinces

    A Tectonic Subdivision of the United States

    Tectonic Style

    Rock Successions

    Tectonic Provinces

    The Idealized Orogenic Belt

    Termination of Deformation at the Margins of an Orogenic System

    Intra-Orogenic Deposition, Plutons, and Suture Zones

    Post-Orogenic Reincarnation

    Chapter 22. Formation, Collapse, and Erosonal Decay of Mountain Systems

    Subduction and Development of the Tectonic Wedge

    Gravitational Collapse of a Mountain

    Lithospheric Delamination

    Erosional Decay of Mountain Systems

    Chapter 23. The Appalachian Orogenic Belt: An Example of Compressional Mountain Building

    Setting the Stage

    A Tectonic Map of the Appalachians

    Major Tectonic Boundaries

    Tectonic Framework

    Formation of Laurentia

    Flysch and Molasse Basins: Dating Appalachian Orogeny

    The Foreland Fold-and-Thrust Belt

    The Five Appalachian Realms

    Late Cambrian-Early Ordovician Paleogeography

    Laurentian Continental Realm

    Internal Massifs

    Iapetus Oceanic Realm

    Peri-Gondwana Microcontinental Realm

    Sequence of Appalachian Collision

    Chapter 24. The Cordilleran Orogenic Belt

    The Precambrian Shield

    Precambrian Sedimentary/Volcanic Succession

    The Miogeocline

    The Sri = 0.706 Line

    Cratonic Deformation: Laramide and Maria Thick-Skinned Belts

    Miogeoclinal Deformation: The Sevier Thrust Belt

    Accreted Terrane Thrust Belts: The Antler and Sonoma Orogenies


    Volcanic Arc and Subduction Complexes

    Building the Cordilleran Tectonic Wedge





Product details

  • No. of pages: 480
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2013
  • Published: December 21, 2012
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123977991
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123978066

About the Author

Joseph DiPietro

Joseph DiPietro
Joseph A. DiPietro is Professor of Geology at the University of Southern Indiana. His research interests are in the fields of structural geology, tectonics, and metamorphism. He has been on the faculty at University of Southern Indiana since 1991 where he teaches Physical Geology, Landscapes and Geology of North America, Mineralogy, Structural Geology, and Tectonics. Most of his research has been on the tectonics of the Pakistan Himalaya where he mapped along the suture zone that separates India from Asia. He has also worked for the New York State Geological Survey mapping in the Adirondack Mountains and for the Idaho Geological Survey mapping in the Clearwater Mountains. He has also conducted mapping and research in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, USA

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