Where are the Rocky Mountains?
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains

October 2016 - What we call the Rocky Mountains is really three different mountain chains, one on top of the other. The oldest mountain chain started more than a billion years ago, before there were any plants or animals living on land. The only living things on Earth at that time were one-celled creatures floating around in the oceans.

About 300 million years ago, a second mountain range formed, and then erosion wore it away. The third and youngest mountain chain pushed the older mountains up more, about 60 million years ago, when the first monkeys were beginning to evolve on Earth, just after the dinosaurs died.

Most of the rocks of these younger mountains are igneous rocks like lava that shot out of volcanoes when the Earth was first forming, or metamorphic rocks like gneiss made out of that igneous rock. These rocks got pushed up into mountains because of plate tectonics, when the Pacific plate with California, Oregon, and Washington on it began pushing against the plate that had the rest of North America on it. Because of how the plates were shaped, the Rocky Mountains formed not on the very edge of the plate, but several hundred miles further away. These mountains stretch all the way from the southern United States up into Canada.

Like the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains are still growing even today as the Pacific plate continues to push against North America.

Learn by Doing - Graph the height of mountain chains
More about the Appalachian Mountains

Bibliography and further reading about the Rocky Mountains:

More about plate tectonics
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 18 August, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT