Chapter 11: A Biography of Earth flashcards |

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Ancestral Rockies

The late Paleozoic uplifts of the Rocky Mountain region; they eroded away long before the present Rocky Mountains formed.

Archean Eon

The middle Precambrian Eon.

Basin and Range Province

A broad, Cenozoic continental rift that has affected a portion of the western United States in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona; in this province, tilted fault blocks form ranges, and alluvium-filled valleys are basins.

Cambrian explosion

The remarkable diversification of life, indicated by the fossil record, that occurred at the beginning of the Cambrian Period.

cratonic platform

A province in the interior of a continent in which Phanerozoic strata bury most of the underlying Precambrian rock.


In the context of planet formation, the process by which a planet separates into a metallic core and a rocky mantle very early in its history.

epicontinental sea

A shallow sea overlying a continent.

Hadean Eon

The oldest of the Precambrian eons; the time between Earth's origin and the formation of the first rocks that have been preserved.

Laramide orogeny

The mountain-building event that lasted from about 80 Ma to 40 Ma, in western North America; in the United States, it formed the Rocky Mountains as a result of basement uplift and the warping of the younger overlying strata into large monoclines.


A supercontinent that assembled at the end of the Paleozoic Era.

Phanerozoic Eon

The most recent eon, an interval of time from 542 Ma to the present.

Pleistocene ice age

The period of time from about 2 Ma to 14,000 years ago, during which the Earth experienced an ice age.

Proterozoic Eon

The most recent of the Precambrian eons.


The most recent of the Precambrian eons.


An older, interior region of a continent.

snowball Earth

Our planet during periods in the Precambrian when its entire surface was ice covered.

stratigraphic sequence

An interval of strata deposited during periods of relatively high sea level, and bounded above and below by regional unconformities.


Layered mounds of sediment formed by cyanobacteria; cyanobacteria secrete a mucuous-like substance to which sediment sticks, and as each layer of cyanobacteria gets buried by sediment, it colonizes the surface of the sediment, building a mound upward.


A huge mantle plume.

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