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Landscape Evolution in the United States - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123977991, 9780123978066

Landscape Evolution in the United States

1st Edition

An Introduction to the Geography, Geology, and Natural History

Author: Joseph DiPietro
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123977991
eBook ISBN: 9780123978066
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 21st December 2012
Page Count: 480
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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


primary- 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.
secondary- undergraduate students in the Geosciences, particularly those taking coursework in geomorphology/physical geology and landscape evolution

Table of Contents




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






No. of pages:
© Elsevier 2013
21st December 2012
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

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


"This text is written for first-semester university students and for general readers curious about the landscapes they live in or travel through in the United States."--Reference and Research Book News, August 2013

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