The relative roles of tectonics and global climate in forming the hydroclimate for widespread eolian deposition remain controversial. Oligocene loess has been previously documented in the interior of western United States, but its spatiotemporal pattern and causes remain undetermined. Through new stratigraphic record documentation and data compilation, we reveal the time transgressive occurrence of loess beginning in the latest Eocene in the central Rocky Mountains, that expands eastward to the Great Plains across the Eocene-Oligocene transition (EOT). Our climate simulations show that moderate uplift of the southern North America Cordillera initiated drying in the Cordilleran hinterland and immediate foreland, forming a potential dust source and sink, and global cooling at the EOT expanded the drying and eolian deposition eastward by causing retreat of the North American Monsoon. Therefore, the eolian deposition reflects continental aridification induced both by regional tectonism and global climate change during the late Paleogene.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.