Landscape Evolution in the United States

1st Edition

An Introduction to the Geography, Geology, and Natural History

Authors: Joseph DiPietro
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123977991
eBook ISBN: 9780123978066
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 8th February 2013
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



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About the Author

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