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An interdisciplinary study under way this summer and fall in the southern Rocky Mountains hopes to show that the lithospheric structure produced there during the formation of the southwestern United States profoundly influenced both physical and chemical modification of the continental lithosphere during all subsequent tectonism. Known as the Continental Dynamics-Rocky Mountain (CD-ROM) project, the study is focusing on understanding the assembly, growth, stabilization, reactivation, and present structure of the Rocky Mountain lithosphere.

The Rocky Mountain region of the western United States has experienced a complex geologic history that can only be unraveled by the integration of a broad range of geoscience data. This region is of great fundamental interest to studies of the dynamics and evolution of the North American continent. It is also an area where a better understanding of the scarce water resources, natural resources, and earthquake hazards depends on knowledge of the geologic structures present.