Unaweep Canyon (Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado) represents an enigmatic landscape with a complex evolution. Interpretations for its origin have ranged from ancestral fluvial erosion in the late Cenozoic to glacial erosion in the Paleozoic, or some combination thereof, with significant implications for global climatic and large-scale tectonic reconstructions. To address the conflicting interpretations, we acquired a high-resolution seismic reflection profile to investigate the depth, structure, and sedimentary infill in the canyon. The data set is further complemented with an electrical resistivity survey. Integrated with other geophysical and geological data, the results show an overdeepened Precambrian basement with transverse U shape and support the hypothesis of a pre-Quaternary glacial origin. Our data constitute the first detailed image of a buried pre-Quaternary glacial valley in North America; if substantiated with core studies, these results have far-reaching implications for our understanding of global ice houses as well as the tectonic conditions, enabling preservation of such systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The acquisition would not have been possible without the dedication of the field crew (P. Ratre, F. Cheng, J. Chang, and A. Eddy) and the expertise of G. Kaip and S. Harder (Seismic Source Facility, UTEP). IRIS-PASSCAL provided Texan receivers. We thank Scott Lissoy and the Moores family for property access and support and are indebted to Nancy Smith and the entire Gateway community for their hospitality. Data were processed using software donations from Haliburton and Schlumberger. Acquisition was partly funded through NSF-EAR- 1338331 and NSF-EAR- 1849623. We thank Fernando Vesely and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive and helpful reviews.
© 2021. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.