USGS Logo Geological Survey Bulletin 1191
Black Canyon of the Gunnison: Today and Yesterday


The geologic bibliography on the Black Canyon area is not very extensive. Many concepts, moreover, have changed greatly since the older reports were published. But much descriptive matter is still valid, even in the oldest reports, and some of the old ones have great historic interest. The more important references are listed as follows, together with corollary readings on allied subjects, briefly annotated.

Atwood, W. W. Sr., and Atwood, W. W., Jr., 1938, Working hypothesis for the physiographic history of the Rocky Mountain Region: Geol. Soc. America Bull., v. 49, p. 957-980.

Briefly describes and relates physiographic features of the important canyons and mountain ranges of the region. Photograph and block diagram of the Black Canyon.

Atwood, W. W., and Mather, K. F., 1932, Physiography and Quaternary geology of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 166, 176 p.

The first and still most comprehensive discussion of regional physiographic relationships of the San Juan area. Descriptive references to the Black Canyon area are very good, although some of the conclusions have since proved to be in error.

Beidleman, R. G., 1959, The Gunnison River diversion project: The Colorado Mag. of the State Hist. Soc. of Colorado, v. 36, no. 3, 15 p.

Describes early exploratory traverses in the Black Canyon prior to the construction of the Gunnison tunnel.

Cross, Whitman, 1894, The laccolitic mountain groups of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona: U.S. Geol. Survey 14th Ann. Rept., pt. 2, p. 157-241.

Many informative references to the laccoliths of the West Elk Mountains.

Hunter, J. F., 1925, Precambrian rocks of Gunnison River, Colorado: U.S. Geol. Survey Bull. 777, 94 p.

A very good general reference with petrographic descriptions of many rock units. Includes a reconnaissance map.

Larsen, E. S., Jr., and Cross, Whitman, 1956, Geology and petrology of the San Juan region, southwestern Colorado: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 258, 303 p.

A storehouse of descriptive and analytical data, particularly on the volcanic rocks of the region.

Lohman, S. W., 1961, Abandonment of Unaweep Canyon, Mesa County, Colorado, by capture of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, in Short papers in the geologic and hydrologic sciences: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 424—B, p. B144-B146.

Spectacular drainage adjustments in the Grand Junction area had a direct bearing on the cutting of the Black Canyon.

Peale, A. C., 1876, Report on valleys of Eagle, Grand, and Gunnison Rivers, Colo., for the year 1874, in Hayden, F. V., 8th Ann. Rept. U.S. Geol. and Geog. Survey Terr.: p. 73-180.

Largely of historic interest, but contains many still-valid observations.

Ross, C. S., and Smith, R. L., 1961, Ash-flow tuffs: Their origin, geologic relations, and identification: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 366, 81 p.

Concise and authoritative.

Thornbury, W. D., 1954, Principles of geomorphology: New York, John Wiley and Sons, 618 p.

Very good general reference. Cites Black Canyon in a discussion of superposition.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>>

Last Updated: 28-Mar-2006