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Basin and Range facts for kids

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Great Basin Ranges
Snake Range
Highest point
Peak White Mountain Peak
Elevation 14,252 ft (4,344 m)
Country United States
Parent range North American Cordillera
Basin and Range
physiographic region
Basin range province.jpg
NASA satellite photo of typical Basin and Range topography across central Nevada
Countries United States, Mexico
Location western United States
 - coordinates 33°N 112°W / 33°N 112°W / 33; -112
Area 170,000 sq mi (440,298 km²)
Biome North American Desert ecoregion

The Basin and Range Province is a vast geographic region in the west United States and northwest Mexico. Its topography has abrupt changes in height. It has narrow faulted mountain chains and flat arid valleys or basins. There are many ecoregions, but the lower part is mostly desert.

The physical geography (physiography) of the province was caused by extension and thinning of the lithosphere, which is composed of crust and upper mantle. What caused this thinning is still being investigated. The thinning began around 17 million years ago (mya) in early Miocene time.

The highest point fully within the Province is White Mountain Peak in California, while the lowest point is Badwater Basin in Death Valley. Other high points are at the boundary of the Basin and Range province.

The numerous ranges within the Province in the United States are collectively referred to as the Great Basin Ranges, although many are not actually in the Great Basin. The Basin and Range province should not be confused with the Great Basin, which is a sub-section of the greater Basin and Range region. The Great Basin is defined by its watershed (internal drainage).

Clarence Dutton compared the many narrow mountain ranges of the Basin and Range to an "army of caterpillars marching toward Mexico", which is a helpful way to visualize the overall appearance of the region.

Basin and Range Province Boundaries and Landmarks
One of various geographical definitions of the Province

Volcanic areas

  • Columbia River Basalt Province:
    • Columbia River flood basalts, eruptive loci
    • Steens Mountain flood basalts, eruptive loci
    • Yellowstone hotspot
      • Owyhee-Humboldt volcanic field (OH)
      • Bruneau-Jarbidge volcanic field (BJ)
      • Twin Falls volcanic field (TF)
      • Northwest Nevada volcanic field (NWNV), it is proposed that it is part of the Yellowstone hotspot trail.
  • Trans-Challis fault system between Idaho City and Gibbonsville. Twin Peaks and Van Horn Caldera in-between.
  • Santa Rosa-Calico volcanic field (SC)
  • Great Basin volcanism:
    • Southwestern Nevada volcanic field (SWNVF)
    • Réveille Range and Lunar Crater volcanic field
    • Indian Peak volcanic field (Indian Peak Caldera, White Rock Caldera, Caliente Caldera), NV/UT
    • Marysvale volcanic field, UT
  • Colorado Mineral Belt:
  • San Juan volcanic field: La Garita Caldera.
  • Central Colorado volcanic field: Thirtynine Mile volcanic area.
  • Mogollon-Datil volcanic field:
    • Bursum
    • Emory
    • Organ (Las Cruces, Doña Ana Mountains, Organ Mountains)
    • Socorro calderas
  • The Jemez Lineament (Raton hotspot trail):
    • San Carlos volcanic field
    • Springerville volcanic field
    • Red Hill volcanic field
    • Zuni-Bandera volcanic field
    • Mount Taylor volcanic field
    • Jemez volcanic field and maybe (Ocate volcanic field, Raton-Clayton volcanic field, and Mesa de Maya)
  • Trans-Pecos volcanic field:
    • Big Bend National Park
    • Davis Mountains
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