Basin-range uplift and canyon cutting in 3 million years, Kingston Canyon, Piute County, southwestern Utah

  • Peter D. Rowley Geologic Mapping Inc.
  • Robert F. Biek Utah Geological Survey
  • David B. Hacker Department of Geology, Kent State University
Keywords: Sevier, Bryce, Kingston, Basin and Range


The Sevier Plateau is a gently east-tilted, block-faulted range in the High Plateaus transition zone of southwestern Utah. Part of this range underwent basin-range deformation, including at least 6000 feet (1800 m) of uplift, in a 3-million-year time span. The north-south range, whose southern end is just north of Bryce Canyon National Park, was uplifted and tilted by the Sevier fault zone along the western side. Kingston Canyon is a deep, east-west antecedent canyon that cut through the range and maintained itself during uplift. The deformation took place between 8 and 5 Ma, constrained by isotopic dating of pre-uplift rhyolite flows (8 Ma), now exposed on the crest of the range, and a post-canyon-cutting rhyolite dome (5 Ma), now in the bottom of Kingston Canyon. This episode of uplift and canyon cutting represents the most closely constrained example known in the Great Basin and adjacent transition zone of main-phase uplift by basin-range faults.

View south from Forshea Mountain showing Phonolite Hill. Phonolite Hill, a rhyolite dome, erupted 5 million years ago at the bottom of Kingston Canyon. The photographer is standing on the 8 Ma rhyolite of Forshea Mountain. The top of the gently east-dipping canyon wall across the canyon would have been a valley floor 8 million years ago. The Sevier fault is to the right of the hills at the far right of the view, west of which is a glimpse of Sevier Valley. The base of the 5 Ma rhyolite dome of Phonolite Hill is at the current canyon floor, showing here a minimum of 4000 feet (1200 m) of uplift (it would show as more if the south wall were projected out to the Sevier fault) on the Sevier fault between 8 and 5 Ma.
How to Cite
Rowley , P., Biek , R., and Hacker , D., 2022, Basin-range uplift and canyon cutting in 3 million years, Kingston Canyon, Piute County, southwestern Utah: Geology of the Intermountain West, v. 9, p. 1-11., doi: 10.31711/giw.v9.pp1-11.