A 2010 Colorado River symposium held in Flagstaff, Arizona, in May 2010, had 70 participants who engaged in intense debate about the origin and evolution of the Colorado River system. This symposium, built on two previous decadal scientific meetings, focused on forging scientific consensus where possible, while also articulating continued controversies regarding the Cenozoic evolution of the Colorado River System and the landscapes of the Colorado Plateau–Rocky Mountain region that it drains. New developments involved hypotheses that Neogene mantle flow is driving plateau tilting and differential uplift, with consensus that multidisciplinary studies involving differential incision studies and additional geochronology and thermochronology are needed to test the relative importance of tectonic and geomorphic forcings in shaping the spectacular landscapes of the Colorado Plateau region. In addition to the scientific goals, the meeting participants emphasized the iconic status of Grand Canyon for geosciences, and the importance of good communication between the research community, the geoscience education/interpretation community, the public, and the media. Building on a century-long tradition, this region still provides a globally important natural laboratory for studies of the interactions of erosion and tectonism in the shaping landscape of elevated plateaus.
- Received 28 April 2011.
- Accepted 15 August 2012.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America