Basin & Range: GPS measures extension

How can we know that basin-range extension is ongoing?

Extension of the Basin and Range Province is obvious as witnessed by the parallel mountains and ranges that define the region. Precise GPS measurements show that ongoing extension can be monitored. In the U.S. scientists have discovered that most of the extension is occurring on the western quarter of the region.


  • GPS can measure millimeter changes in ground position over time
  • The basin-range province of the US is extending

Total Time: 1min
Level: Novice

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Over most of the last 30 million years, movement of hot mantle beneath the region caused the surface to dome up and then partially collapse under its own weight, as it pulled apart. Currently, there is very little actual stretching going on, and the small amount is concentrated on the Western and Eastern edges of the Basin and Range.

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