Events in the Basin and Range and along the West Coast have also influenced Colorado's physical development, particularly from ~80 Ma on.
Most of them cluster around the intersection of these two profound lineaments, both which almost certainly cut the full thickness of the lithosphere.
This telling elevation distribution reflects a powerful synergy between truly ancient plate processes driven by the cooling of the earth in the presence of gravity and ongoing mantle processes driven by Lord knows what.
The wavy fabric indicates solid flow at mid-crustal temperatures of 400-500C.
To recast barely conceivable geologic time intervals in a more familiar format, they'll also appear from time to time as military hours in a single 24-hour day (and all-nighter) of creation beginning at the planet's formation and ending with the here and 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 take nothing else away from this humble attempt, please consider this: Of Colorado's 55 Fourteeners, all but 2 (Longs Peak and Pikes Peak) lie either along the Colorado Mineral Belt or on the shoulders of the Rio Grande Rift.
My piano tuner's job security rests on the fact that properly tuned piano wire flows (stretches) at a similar rate and falls out of tune in a matter of months.
Over a few Ma, fingernail speed is plenty fast enough to fold great thicknesses of sedimentary rock over the east edge of the relatively brittle Front Range basement block, as in the photo at right.
After an introductory section, Colorado's geologic history will unfold in chronological order below.