Newswise — STONY BROOK, NY, November 19, 2019 –  By using the latest computer numerical modeling technologies, combined with geologic compilations and seismic data, researchers in the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook University have developed a complete geodynamic model that explains the forces behind the remarkable collapse of what were lofty mountains some 30 million years ago in what is now part of the American West.

The research, published in Nature Communications, includes visuals that reveal how the mountains were probably higher than the Rockies are today and how a complex system of faults chopped the region up, allowing mountains to expand bountifully and form the Basin and Range province and the now dangerous San Andreas fault system in California.

The article is authored by graduate student Ali Bahadori and William E. Holt, PhD, and the study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Holt, who is the project leader, says that the results will be combined with climate and erosion models of the vast region to better explain this geologic evolution over millions of years and its impact on the fauna and flora found in the fossil record.

The paper includes 31 animations that, along with the findings, will be useful for ongoing research and education.

For more on the project at large that involves Holt and other Stony Brook College of Arts and Sciences researchers, see this news.


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Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with over 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.  




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Nature Communications