Re: How was death valley formed?
Posted by Marek Cichanski on December 01, 2001 at 20:31:51:
In Reply to: How was death valley formed? posted by Brandon on December 01, 2001 at 15:31:33:
The simplest answer to "how was Death Valley formed" is to say that it is a type of 'down-faulted' valley called a "graben" (or, more accurately, a "half-graben", or even more nit-pickingly, a "pull-apart basin".) The standard 'in a nutshell' explanation is that there is a fault system along the western side of the Black Mountains which dips beneath central Death Valley, and along which the DV/Panamint block is being downdropped relative to the uplifting Black Mountains block.
The existence of this fault system, in turn, is related to the Northern and Southern Death Valley fault zones, along which relative motion of the blocks is mostly horizontal (called 'strike slip'). The area between these fault zones is being stretched as a result.
I'm guessing that a good place to start on the web would be a USGS/NPS site;
Hope that helps - it's one of those things that is a lot simpler if you pick up a little background, which can hopefully be found on the USGS website. Death Valley has long been considered a supreme natural laboratory for research into these sorts of processes, and has been a hotbed of excited scientific debate about these issues for at least the last 15 years.