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Full extent of the Basin and Range
Kingston Range in the Mojave Desert, California
Basin and Range scenery in Nevada

The Basin and Range Province is a large geologic province which includes parts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, typified by basin and range topography.

The basin and ranges of central Nevada are seen in this photo, along with Walker Lake, Nevada, Mono Lake, California, and the Sierra Nevada in the upper right of photograph
Typical road across central Nevada stretching from one range, across the basin, to another range



The province extends east from the Sierra Nevada all the way to the Colorado Plateau and extends south over northern parts of the Baja California Peninsula. This covers parts of the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, and Utah and virtually all of Nevada (a small northern portion of Elko County, Nevada drains to the Snake River). Basin and Range topography also dominates large parts of the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Baja California. The arid Great Basin is part of this province as well as most of the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Deserts.


The topography of the Basin and Range is a result of crustal extension within this part of the North American Plate. The cause of this extension is as yet not fully understood, although several hypotheses have been offered. The crust here has been stretched up to 100% of its original width.[1] In fact, the crust underneath the Basin and Range, especially under the Great Basin, is some of the thinnest in the world. Along the roughly north-south-trending faults mountains were uplifted and valleys down-dropped, producing the distinctive alternating pattern of linear mountain ranges and valleys of the Basin and Range province.


Mineral resources

The Basin and Range province supplies nearly all the copper and most of the gold, silver, and barite mined in the United States. A small amount of petroleum is produced within the province, in Nevada.

See also



  • Baldridge, W. Scott, Geology of the American Southwest: A Journey Through Two Billion Years of Plate Tectonic History , Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-01666-5
  • McPhee, John, Basin and Range. Noonday Press, 1990. ISBN 0-374-51690-1
  • Plummer, McGeary, Carlson, Physical Geology, Eight Edition Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1999, pages 321, 513, 514 ISBN 0-697-37404-1
  • Stanley, Steven M.,Earth System History. W.H. Freeman and Company, 1999, pages 537, 540-543, 545 ISBN 0-7167-2882-6


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