The place where you are right now has a rich geological history that is recorded by the rocks beneath you and the fossils that they may contain. The rocks and fossils reveal the movements of continents and the evolution of new forms of life. This history helps to explain why the Earth looks like it does today. It also explains things like the distributions of natural resources, from rare minerals to rich soils for agriculture. Studying Earth's ancient climate also helps us to make sense of how the climate is changing today and how it will affect us where we live.
The goal of this part of the Earth@Home project is to explain the Earth science of the southwestern United States, which is defined here to include Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Major regions include the Colorado Plateau, the Basin and Range, the Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains.
Overviews of Southwestern U.S. Earth Science
Colorado Plateau Region
Southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, southwestern Colorado, and northwestern New Mexico.
Basin and Range Region
Southwestern New Mexico, southern and western Arizona, and western Utah.
Rocky Mountain Region
Central Colorado and northeastern Utah.
Great Plains Region
Eastern Colorado and New Mexico.
Geologic Maps, Topographic Maps, and Earth Science Quick Facts
Simple geologic and topographic maps of each state in the southwestern United States, along with quick facts about official state fossils, rocks, minerals, gems, points of highest and lowest elevation, and lists of places to visit.
Lists of supplemental and teaching resources for the Earth science of the southwestern U.S., sorted by topic.
Earth Science Careers
Information about Earth science career paths.
Most of the Earth@Home content in the Here on Earth: Southwestern United States section is derived from The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Earth Science of the Southwestern US, edited by Andrielle N. Swaby, Mark D. Lucas, and Robert M. Ross (published in 2016 by the Paleontological Research Institution; currently out of print). The citation for the original book is:
- Swaby, A.N., M. D. Lucas, and R. M. Ross (eds.). 2016. The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Earth Science of the Southwestern US. Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York, 458 pp.
The book was adapted for the web by Elizabeth J. Hermsen and Jonathan R. Hendricks in 2022. Changes include formatting and revisions to the text and images.
Authors for the original chapters adapted for the southwestern U.S. section of Here on Earth are as follows. Some of the content has been spread over multiple pages on this website, so links are not provided below:
- Chapter 1. Geologic history of the Southwestern US: Lisa R. Fisher, Richard A. Kissel, and Warren D. Allmon
- Chapter 2. Rocks of the Southwestern US: Lisa R. Fisher and Richard A. Kissel.
- Chapter 3. Fossils of the Southwestern US: Warren D. Allmon and Richard A. Kissel.
- Chapter 4. Topography of the Southwestern US: Bryan L. Isacks, Richard A. Kissel, and Warren D. Allmon.
- Chapter 5. Mineral Resources of the Southwestern US: Thomas R. Fisher.
- Chapter 6. Energy in the Southwestern US: Carlyn S. Buckler and Robert M. Ross.
- Chapter 7. Soils of the Southwestern US: Richard A. Kissel and Judith T. Parrish.
- Chapter 8. Climate of the Southwestern US: Ingrid H. H. Zabel, Judith T. Parrish, and Andrielle N. Swaby.
- Chapter 9. Earth Hazards of the Southwestern US: Luke P. McCann and Andrielle N. Swaby.