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Cretaceous Paleogeography

This page was written by Jen Aschoff as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

Sand dunes in Death Valley.
Sand dunes in Death Valley. Details

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Plate Reconstructions and Continent Configurations

Resources containing a variety of paleogeographic maps and information about North American Cretaceous paleogeography.

  • Cretaceous Paleogeography of the Southwestern U.S.. The complex tectonic evolution of southwestern US is explained with these detailed paleogeographic maps of this region. Significant geologic features such as the Cordilleran volcanic arc, the Cordilleran fold and thrust belt, incipient Laramide uplifts, foreland basin and Western Interior seaway are depicted in this series of maps. Discussions of important geologic features, concepts and the tectonic evolution of the southwestern US during the Cretaceous accompany the maps. (more info)
  • Geology Fieldnotes: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. This Capitol Reef National Park site contains park geology information, park maps, photographs, visitor information, and a teacher feature (resources for teaching geology with National Park examples). Geologic data includes descriptions of the Waterpocket Fold, a monocline formed in the Laramide Orogeny and made of sedimentary rock. Also covered is erosion, and details about the Cathedral Valley outcrop of gypsum. This formation is Permian to Cretaceous in age (270-80 million years old). (more info)
  • Geology Fieldnotes: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska. This park is home to the Fairweather Mountains, which formed during the Laramide Orogeny, as well as many glaciers. The site includes introductory information about glacial formation and icebergs, links to park maps, and visitor information. (more info)
  • Geology Fieldnotes: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. This National Park Service resource includes information about geology, park maps, visitor information, photographs, and links to other sites about this park. Geologic information spans the entire history of the park, beginning 2.5 billion years ago (Precambrian) to the present. Details about the different rock types and their formation, mountain building through plate tectonics and the Laramide Orogeny, formation of valleys and canyons, volcanism in the area, and erosion by glaciers are all covered. (more info)
  • Global Paleogeographic Views of Earth History. This site supplies 26 global paleogeographic maps that illustrate how Earth may have appeared throughout the last 600 million years. Realistic colors for geographic features were derived from satellite images and adjusted to portray climate and vegetation on the maps. Maps were created as rectangular images then wrapped around a sphere to convey a global view. An extensive list of references used is provided at the bottom of the page. (more info)
  • Mantle Plumes and Mountain Building. This page presents an abstract from the American Scientist March-April 1999 issue. It discusses how the westward progress of the North American plate over the relatively stationary Yellowstone plume during the past 75 million years may explain geological features as diverse as the Laramide Orogeny, the distended Basin and Range Province, and the accretion of exotic terranes along the continent's west coast. Some sample figures from the article that illustrate the path of the hot spot across North America, as well as a cross section of the subduction zone over the past 70 million years, are also included. Other links included are: relief maps of the United States, physiographic provinces of the United States, geomorphology from space, a story on plate tectonics by the United States Geological Survey, a plate motion calculator, and various geology links. (more info)
  • North American Orogenies. This web-site contains files showing simple cross sections of one or more states in selected North American orogenies (mountain building events). Major structures, elements, and rock units are shown. The orogenies covered here include the Wopmay, Taconic, Acadian, Alleghanian, Palisades, Antler, Ancestral Rockies, Sonoman, Sevier and Laramide. (more info)
  • Tertiary Paleogeography and Tectonic History, Central Arizona. This website presents images and text depicting the paleogeography and tectonic evolution of central Arizona during the Tertiary period. Emphasis is on an evolving Oligocene to Miocene drainage system that documents the existence of the Mogollon Rim, the southern physiographic boundary of the Colorado Plateau. The goal of this page is to demonstrate the evolution of stream systems in relation to complex, dynamic, tectonic events in the Southwest including the Laramide orogeny, Cenozoic core complexes, Basin and Range faulting, and Cenozoic volcanism. This is done through photographs, stratigraphic columns and cross-sections of area geology. (more info)
  • The Formation of Pangaea: The Making of a Supercontinent. This site explains the events during the Paleozoic era that led up to the formation of the Pangaea supercontinent in the Mesozoic era. The existence in the Paleozoic era of the supercontinent Gondwanaland, the continents Laurentia and Baltica, and smaller continental masses are explained as well as the later collisions which created mountains by folding of the Earth's crust, (orogenies) such as the Acadian, Appalachian, Urals, and Laramide orogenies. (more info)
  • The PLATES Project. Contains animations of plate tectonic movement through geologic history (under the headings 'Reconstructions' and 'Movies'). Several maps with plate motion arrows are shown under the heading of 'Teaching'. Lawrence Lawver and Ian Dalziel of the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) are Principal Investigators of the PLATES Project. (more info)
  • Tour of Park Geology: Mountain Building. This site provides links to tours of National Parks, National Monuments, and Recreation Areas associated with major mountain building periods. The parks are divided into groups by mountain building events: Appalachian, Laramide, and others. Where appropriate, links are provided to park geology, maps, photographs, geologic research, related links, visitor information, multi-media, and teacher features (resources for teaching geology with National Park examples). The list includes places such as: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Shenandoah National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Mt. Rushmore National Monument, Yosemite National Park, and more. (more info)
  • A Tale of Two Rocks. This Smithsonian Magazine site provides an introductory level summary of the discovery of the Chicxulub impact site. The article describes geologic evidence used to interpret the impact structure and the implications these have for the Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinction. Other topics include the extinction of dinosaurs, tsunami waves, wildfires, shocked quartz, impact melt rocks, impact breccias, and the use of subsurface geophysical and drill core data. (more info)
  • Color-coded Continents. Paleogeographic reconstructions for time periods within 620 million years to present are featured on this site. These global paleogeographic maps are viewed by scrolling down the page and are arranged in order of increasing age beginning with the present. Landmasses are color-coded to illustrate the movement of plates through time. The site also discusses how the maps are constructed and what lines of evidence are most commonly used, and includes several links to additional information. (more info)
  • Cretaceous Paleogeography of the Southwestern U.S.. The complex tectonic evolution of southwestern US is explained with these detailed paleogeographic maps of this region. Significant geologic features such as the Cordilleran volcanic arc, the Cordilleran fold and thrust belt, incipient Laramide uplifts, foreland basin and Western Interior seaway are depicted in this series of maps. Discussions of important geologic features, concepts and the tectonic evolution of the southwestern US during the Cretaceous accompany the maps. (more info)
  • Geology: Plate Tectonics Animations. Plate tectonic animations for a broad range of time periods are provided on this site. These animations depict continental configurations through time and supply several links to additional information about each time period. Links to detailed discussions about plate tectonics are provided. (more info)
  • Global Paleogeographic Views of Earth History. This site supplies 26 global paleogeographic maps that illustrate how Earth may have appeared throughout the last 600 million years. Realistic colors for geographic features were derived from satellite images and adjusted to portray climate and vegetation on the maps. Maps were created as rectangular images then wrapped around a sphere to convey a global view. An extensive list of references used is provided at the bottom of the page. (more info)
  • Late Cretaceous. This site provides a list of links to paleogeographic reconstructions for several time slices within the Cretaceous Period. These include 100 million, 90 million, 80 million and 70 million years ago. Paleogeographic maps are arranged by age and emphasize tectonics, depositional systems and paleogeography. Short discussions of paleogeography, tectonic evolution and historical geology accompany some of the maps. (more info)
  • Paleomap Project Earth History. The goal of the Earth History segment of the Paleomap Project is to illustrate global plate tectonic development, as well as the changing configuration of landmasses and seas during the past 1100 million years. An array of colorful paleogeographic maps for geologically significant periods of earth's history is provided. Each paleogeographic map displays the reconstructed positions of modern continental coastlines, shelf margins, major tectonic boundaries, active plate boundaries and seafloor spreading isochrones. The maps also include a short discussion indicating important geologic features and events for each period. (more info)
  • Plate Tectonic Animations. This site contains a variety of plate tectonic animations, paleogeographic reconstructions, and paleoclimate animations. Each animation is viewable from the web page, and has accompanying text that explains the events portrayed. Examples include the formation of the ocean basins, the assembly and breakup of Pangaea, and the collision of India and Asia. (more info)
  • The Cretaceous Period. This resource discusses notable facts about the Cretaceous Period, the last portion of the "Age of Dinosaurs". The site covers Ceratopsians, such as the Tricerotops. It includes sections on stratigraphy, ancient life, localities and tectonics. (more info)
  • The PLATES Project. Contains animations of plate tectonic movement through geologic history (under the headings 'Reconstructions' and 'Movies'). Several maps with plate motion arrows are shown under the heading of 'Teaching'. Lawrence Lawver and Ian Dalziel of the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) are Principal Investigators of the PLATES Project. (more info)
  • Western Interior Seaway. The Western Interior Seaway is an ancient intracontinental seaway that occupied much of modern western North America and existed throughout much of the Cretaceous Period. This site discusses the physiography, origin, evolution and biologic significance of this intriguing geologic feature. Specific topics include sea level fluctuation, marine and non-marine life, and sedimentary rocks associated with the Western Interior Seaway. A paleogeographic map and discussion are provided with numerous links to additional information on related topics. (more info)

Cretaceous Landforms

Resources containing specific information about and primary data for key Cretaceous geographic features.

  • Color-coded Continents. Paleogeographic reconstructions for time periods within 620 million years to present are featured on this site. These global paleogeographic maps are viewed by scrolling down the page and are arranged in order of increasing age beginning with the present. Landmasses are color-coded to illustrate the movement of plates through time. The site also discusses how the maps are constructed and what lines of evidence are most commonly used, and includes several links to additional information. (more info)
  • Cretaceous Paleogeography of the Southwestern U.S.. The complex tectonic evolution of southwestern US is explained with these detailed paleogeographic maps of this region. Significant geologic features such as the Cordilleran volcanic arc, the Cordilleran fold and thrust belt, incipient Laramide uplifts, foreland basin and Western Interior seaway are depicted in this series of maps. Discussions of important geologic features, concepts and the tectonic evolution of the southwestern US during the Cretaceous accompany the maps. (more info)
  • Cretaceous Tethyan Stratigraphy. The objective of this site is to construct a database for Cretaceous Tethyan stratigraphy. Stratigraphic information, photos and charts are arranged by geologic stage in a vertical menu. The types of information found in this site include basin reference sections, basin or platform control sections, biostratigraphic and sequence stratigraphic data, as well as other data that support and refine correlations. Access to scientific forums about Tethyan stratigraphy and a list of relevant links are also provided. (more info)
  • Geology Fieldnotes: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. This Capitol Reef National Park site contains park geology information, park maps, photographs, visitor information, and a teacher feature (resources for teaching geology with National Park examples). Geologic data includes descriptions of the Waterpocket Fold, a monocline formed in the Laramide Orogeny and made of sedimentary rock. Also covered is erosion, and details about the Cathedral Valley outcrop of gypsum. This formation is Permian to Cretaceous in age (270-80 million years old). (more info)
  • Geology Fieldnotes: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. This National Park Service resource includes information about geology, park maps, visitor information, photographs, and links to other sites about this park. Geologic information spans the entire history of the park, beginning 2.5 billion years ago (Precambrian) to the present. Details about the different rock types and their formation, mountain building through plate tectonics and the Laramide Orogeny, formation of valleys and canyons, volcanism in the area, and erosion by glaciers are all covered. (more info)
  • Geology: Plate Tectonics Animations. Plate tectonic animations for a broad range of time periods are provided on this site. These animations depict continental configurations through time and supply several links to additional information about each time period. Links to detailed discussions about plate tectonics are provided. (more info)
  • Global Paleogeographic Views of Earth History. This site supplies 26 global paleogeographic maps that illustrate how Earth may have appeared throughout the last 600 million years. Realistic colors for geographic features were derived from satellite images and adjusted to portray climate and vegetation on the maps. Maps were created as rectangular images then wrapped around a sphere to convey a global view. An extensive list of references used is provided at the bottom of the page. (more info)
  • Late Cretaceous. This site provides a list of links to paleogeographic reconstructions for several time slices within the Cretaceous Period. These include 100 million, 90 million, 80 million and 70 million years ago. Paleogeographic maps are arranged by age and emphasize tectonics, depositional systems and paleogeography. Short discussions of paleogeography, tectonic evolution and historical geology accompany some of the maps. (more info)
  • North American Orogenies. This web-site contains files showing simple cross sections of one or more states in selected North American orogenies (mountain building events). Major structures, elements, and rock units are shown. The orogenies covered here include the Wopmay, Taconic, Acadian, Alleghanian, Palisades, Antler, Ancestral Rockies, Sonoman, Sevier and Laramide. (more info)
  • Paleomap Project Earth History. The goal of the Earth History segment of the Paleomap Project is to illustrate global plate tectonic development, as well as the changing configuration of landmasses and seas during the past 1100 million years. An array of colorful paleogeographic maps for geologically significant periods of earth's history is provided. Each paleogeographic map displays the reconstructed positions of modern continental coastlines, shelf margins, major tectonic boundaries, active plate boundaries and seafloor spreading isochrones. The maps also include a short discussion indicating important geologic features and events for each period. (more info)
  • Plate Tectonic Animations. This site contains a variety of plate tectonic animations, paleogeographic reconstructions, and paleoclimate animations. Each animation is viewable from the web page, and has accompanying text that explains the events portrayed. Examples include the formation of the ocean basins, the assembly and breakup of Pangaea, and the collision of India and Asia. (more info)
  • Stratigraphic Cross Section of Northeast Texas. Cretaceous sedimentary rocks of Northeast Texas provide important clues about paleogeography, paleotectonics, and sea level fluctuation. This website describes several of these rock units and the geologic information they supply. An unpublished report with a thorough discussion, map, cross section, and numerous references is provided. Specific topics include Cretaceous stratigraphy, lithostratigraphic and biostratigraphic correlation, ammonites, Western Interior Seaway, Skull Creek Seaway, paleogeography, and paleotectonics. (more info)
  • The Formation of Pangaea: The Making of a Supercontinent. This site explains the events during the Paleozoic era that led up to the formation of the Pangaea supercontinent in the Mesozoic era. The existence in the Paleozoic era of the supercontinent Gondwanaland, the continents Laurentia and Baltica, and smaller continental masses are explained as well as the later collisions which created mountains by folding of the Earth's crust, (orogenies) such as the Acadian, Appalachian, Urals, and Laramide orogenies. (more info)
  • The PLATES Project. Contains animations of plate tectonic movement through geologic history (under the headings 'Reconstructions' and 'Movies'). Several maps with plate motion arrows are shown under the heading of 'Teaching'. Lawrence Lawver and Ian Dalziel of the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) are Principal Investigators of the PLATES Project. (more info)
  • Western Interior Seaway. The Western Interior Seaway is an ancient intracontinental seaway that occupied much of modern western North America and existed throughout much of the Cretaceous Period. This site discusses the physiography, origin, evolution and biologic significance of this intriguing geologic feature. Specific topics include sea level fluctuation, marine and non-marine life, and sedimentary rocks associated with the Western Interior Seaway. A paleogeographic map and discussion are provided with numerous links to additional information on related topics. (more info)





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