Desert geology and landscape
Why does the Sonoran desert look like this? And why is it a desert? And does it rock?
The Sonoran Desert, and it's a really really dry place, is located in the southern part of the Basin and Range area that runs down through the western United States, between the coastal regions and mountain ranges and the Rockies..
The Basin and Range Geologic Province was formed long ago when this part of the earth gradually pulled apart, leaving long north-south ranges of low faulted mountains interspersed with low-lying basins.
More recently, within just the last hundred million years, mountain-building and volcanic activity have introduced mineral-rich magma, forming deposits of copper, gold, and gemstones, which continue to be mined today. Ha!
As the mountains eroded, the basins filed in with outwash of sand, rocks and gravel. This forms the floor of the current desert.
The desert is generally dry and sunny. Well, yeah. Many areas average less than 10 inches of rainfall each year, and wide diurnal temperature extremes. 30 degree temperature differences between the daytime and the night are not unusual. In addition to the expected but stunningly hot summer temperatures, which can get over 120 degrees F, the desert can see winter frosts and occasional snowfall in northern or higher elevation regions.
One example of mountains in the desert
White Tank Mountains, Sonoran
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