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University of Wyoming - National Park Service Research Center: 2014 Annual Report



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The Teton Range is the result of active crustal extension (normal faulting) and is the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains at approximately 2 million years old. This makes it a particularly attractive landscape to study, especially in terms of landform development and morphology because of its youth, state of seismic activity, and its recent deglaciation. These factors have combined to produce a unique fluvial landscape in that the fault-shattered metamorphic/igneous rocks of the range have been/are being eroded from their source cliffs at high rates which has covered the glacially scoured valley floors with colluvium such as talus slopes, rock slide, avalanche, and debris flow deposits. This project was focused on the characterization of all forms of mass movement, especially rock slides, multiple talus types (rockfall, alluvial, avalanche), protalus lobes, protalus ramparts, lobate and tongue-shaped rock glaciers, and their collective effects on water retention and its late-season delivery in the Grand Teton National Park, WY. A major goal of this project was to reclassify many of the mass movements in the park in an effort to streamline and simplify previous efforts by other scientists. Methods used during this study included field reconnaissance and measurements acquired during the summers of 2010 and 2013 and measurements taken from various datasets (NAIP imagery, shape files used within a GIS [ArcMap 10.0], and Google Earthâ¢). Mass movement deposits, as well as ice glaciers and long-term snowbanks, were mapped and interpreted. Overall conclusions are that the major sources of mass movements from the Archean crystalline core of the range are the result of extensive jointing, fault-shattering, increased frost-wedging at higher altitudes, slopes steepened by prior glacial erosion, and extensive snow avalanches. Areas of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks marginal to the crystalline core produce rockslides as a result of steep dips and unstable shales beneath massive overlying carbonates. The presence of internal ground ice enables development of protalus lobes, thicker rock-fragment flows, and thinner boulder streams. Such ground ice is likely to enhance late-season water delivery downstream unless climate warming and recurrent droughts become too extreme.


The University of Wyoming National Park Service Research Center granted the University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries permission to deposit this non-peer reviewed report.

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