A workshop was convened in St. George, Utah, to advance planning for the Colorado Plateau Coring Project (CPCP). The vast continental basins of the southwestern United States, particularly well exposed on the Colorado Plateau and its environs, contain one of the richest stratigraphic records of early Mesozoic age (between roughly 145 and 250 million years ago). This time period was punctuated by two of the major mass extinctions in the past 550 million years and witnessed the evolutionary appearance of the modern biota and dramatic climate changes on the continents.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, classic studies of these basins, their strata, and their fossils have made this sequence instrumental in framing our context for the early Mesozoic world. Nonetheless, striking ambiguities in temporal resolution, uncertainties in global correlations with other early Mesozoic strata, and major doubts about latitudinal position still hamper testing of the major competing climatic, biotic, and tectonic hypotheses.