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From the late Miocene to the middle Pliocene, the current drainage basin of the Owens River probably consisted of a broad, moderate-elevation, low-relief plateau with radiating drainage toward the Pacific Ocean, the northwestern Great Basin (now Lahontan drainages), and the Mojave and Colorado drainages. This plateau probably contained shallow basins, created by an extensional pulse at 12–11 Ma, at the present locations of major valleys. Between 4 and 3 Ma, this plateau was disrupted by a rapid westward step of extensional Basin and Range Province tectonism, which reactivated the Miocene faults and resulted in a linear north-south valley (the Owens...

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