Colorado Plateau

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Colorado Plateau,

physiographic region of SW North America, c.150,000 sq mi (388,500 sq km), in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, including the "Four Corners" area. It is characterized by broad plateaus, ancient volcanic mountains at elevations of c.5,000 to 13,000 ft (1,520–3,960 m), and deeply dissected canyons lined with often brightly colored sedimentary and volcanic rocks, including the Grand CanyonGrand Canyon,
great gorge of the Colorado River, one of the natural wonders of the world; c.1 mi (1.6 km) deep, from 4 to 18 mi (6.4–29 km) wide, and 217 mi (349 km) long, NW Ariz.
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 of the Colorado River. Native American reservations occupy about one third of the mostly semiarid and sparsely vegetated area, which was the last U.S. region to be explored by whites. About one half of the public land is used for grazing. Among many ancient cliff dwellings are those at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly. The region has a number of U.S. national parks and monuments.


See K. A. Brown, Four Corners (1996).

Colorado Plateau


a plateau in the Cordilleras of North America, located in the southwestern part of the USA. Borders on the northwest with the Great Basin, on the east and northeast with the Rocky Mountains, and on the south with the interior region of the Mexican Plateau. Area, more than 300,000 sq km. Predominating elevations, 1,800–2,500 m; highest point, 3,861 m (Humphreys Peak).

The plateau is formed of Precambrian crystalline rocks, covered with a heavy sedimentary layer from the Paleozoic to the Paleogene periods, with which are linked deposits of uranium and vanadium ores. During the Paleogene and Neocene uplifting occurred, accompanied by faulting movements and manifestations of volcanic activity and erosion caused by rivers (especially magnificent is the canyon of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon). The climate is subtropical continental and dry (with annual precipitation of 200–500 mm). Vegetation consists of arid steppes with succulents and, in less arid places, forests of twisted pines and juniper.

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