Abstract

Pliocene rocks of the Imperial and Palm Spring Formations in southern California contain reworked Cretaceous pollen that helps determine the timing of erosion of Cretaceous rocks on the Colorado Plateau. The stratigraphic distribution of reworked pollen in the Imperial and Palm Spring Formations suggests that erosion of Cretaceous rocks in the southern part of the Colorado Plateau began by 4.5 Ma. Erosion of Cretaceous rocks in the northern part of the plateau began at 3.9 Ma. This erosional history indicates that rapid and extensive erosion of the Colorado Plateau occurred during the Pliocene and supports the hypothesis that much of the Grand Canyon was cut during the Pliocene, rather than earlier in the Tertiary. Rapid erosion and transport from the Colorado Plateau require the climate in that region during the Pliocene to have been significantly wetter than it is today.

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