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American Journal of Science


In the past decade, we and others have compiled an extensive dataset of O, C and Sr isotope stratigraphies from sedimentary basins throughout the Paleogene North American Cordillera. In this study, we present new results from the Piceance Creek Basin of northwest Colorado, which record the evolving hydrology of the Eocene Green River Lake system. We then place the new data in the context of the broader Cordilleran dataset and summarize implications for understanding the synorogenic evolution of large-scale drainage patterns. The combined data reflect (1) a period of throughgoing foreland rivers heading in the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt and flowing east, (2) ponding of freshwater lakes in the foredeep as Laramide uplifts blocked drainage, (3) hydrologic closure that led to both intensive evaporation in the terminal sink of the Piceance Creek Basin and integration of catchments over length-scales >1000 km, (4) infilling of basin accommodation by southward migrating magmatism in distal catchments, leading to the freshening and demise of intraforeland lakes that also stepped south over time.


Reproduced by permission of the American Journal of Science.
DOI 10.2475/07.2009.02



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