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A detailed record of the late Cenozoic history of the lower Colorado River can be inferred from alluvial and (likely) lacustrine stratigraphy exposed in dissected alluvial basins below the mouth of the Grand Canyon. Numerous sites in Mohave, Cottonwood, and Detrital valleys contain stratigraphic records that directly bear on the mode, timing, and consequences of the river’s inception and integration in the latest Miocene–early Pliocene and its subsequent evolution through the Pleistocene. This field trip guide describes and illustrates many of these key stratigraphic relationships and, in particular, highlights evidence that supports the hypothesis of cascading lake-overflow as the principal formative mechanism of the river’s course downstream from the Grand Canyon.

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