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Geologic understanding requires careful attention to time as well as three-dimensional space, so we'd better stop here first.If you're unfamiliar with geologic time terminology and abbreviations, take that detour now.I've attempted to point out the most significant unknowns and disagreements, but often, rightly or wrongly, I've simply taken sides.

If you need more help with geologic time or terminology, check out these resources.

Colorado's geologic history is as complex as it is fascinating.

The geology is in turn inextricably entwined with Colorado's human history.

That's true everywhere, of course, but it goes double here.

With over 50 million modern human lifetimes elapsed since the planet formed around 4.5 Ga, geologic or deep time is, to say the least, difficult to grasp.

But the effort pays, for with a feel for deep time comes a sense of its great power: Given enough time, almost anything energetically possible can happeneven at very large scales.Under great confining pressures, or at depths where temperatures reach a significant fraction of their melting points (typically 10-15 km), rocks that are quite brittle at the surface become sufficiently plastic to deform without fracture at rates comparable to the rate at which fingernails grow (~10 mm/yr).Granted, that makes molasses look downright mercurial, but then relative viscosity is the whole idea here.Colorado's generous endowments of accessible mineral wealth and fertile farmland were not inevitable birthrights. This overview ventures a "to the best of our knowledge" summary of Colorado geologic evolution current as of late 2004.Colorado's story still includes many gaps and controversies, often around events and structures shrouded in deep time, deep earth or both.Events in the Basin and Range and along the West Coast have also influenced Colorado's physical development, particularly from ~80 Ma on.

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