The Paleo-Bell River: North America’s vanished Amazon | EARTH Magazine

https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/paleo-bell-river-north-americas-vanished-amazon

A generalized reconstruction of Paleo-Bell River drainage and evolution of other major rivers in western and northern North America, after James Sears and others. By the Miocene, the Paleo-Bell River Basin reached its greatest extent. Rifts like the Rio Grande and Great Basin created an ancestral Colorado River that was yet to establish a course to the Pacific (location 1). Instead, it flowed north from the Grand Canyon region through structurally controlled valleys and into the larger Paleo-Bell River Basin via an ancestral Yellowstone River, whose gravels cap the Cypress Hills. This route was blocked by eruptions of lava in the Snake River Plain (location 2) associated with the Yellowstone Hot Spot. Repeated glaciation starting about 2.6 million years ago diverted north-flowing rivers like the Paleo-Yellowstone along ice sheet margins (location 3) to form the Missouri River. The ice sheets also disrupted the Paleo-Bell River Basin, causing river sedimentation to cease in the Saglek Basin. The Mackenzie River Basin was created, leaving the Saskatchewan/Nelson River Basin as the last remnant of North America’s Amazon. Credit: K. Cantner, AGI and Lionel Jackson, based on Sears, GSA Today, 2013.