Utah has three regions defined by landforms: the Basin and Range Physiographic Province, the Rocky Mountain Physiographic Province and the Colorado Plateau Physiographic Province. Warm Springs Park and the Salt Lake Salient are on the boundary between the “Basin and Range” and “Rocky Mountain” province. The boundary is generally accepted as the Wasatch Fault Zone. Change happens here!
IMPRINT of the PAST:
The west – east contrast of Utah’s landforms is an old feature sometimes referred to as Utah’s Hingeline or the Wasatch Line. For example, millions of years ago during the time of trilobites, western Utah was dominated by marine (ocean) shallow seas and eastern Utah was dominated by low-lying land. During the age of dinosaurs, what is now western Utah was dominated by mountain ranges as impressive as the Andes, and eastern Utah had deltas and swamp along the margin of an inland sea. The imprint of these older chapters of Utah’s past can be recognized in the rock record at this site.
Less obvious is the imprint of the Uinta Axis, a very old feature of Utah’s crust that aligns with the Uinta Mountains of today, but has influenced the geologic history at this site.
Thus, this site is at the intersection of two sets of contrasting regions. No wonder it has perplexed Earth scientists from G.K. Gilbert to the present.