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Death Valley Geology Overview:

Basin and Range

Approximately three million years ago, the dynamics of crustal movement changed, and Death Valley proper began to form. At this time, compressional forces were replaced by extensional forces. This "pulling apart" of the Earth's crust allowed large blocks of land to slowly slide past one another along faults, forming alternating valleys and mountain ranges. Badwater Basin, the Death Valley salt pan and the Panamint mountain range comprise one block that is rotating eastward as a structural unit. The valley floor has been steadily slipping downward, subsiding along the fault that lies at the base of the Black Mountains. Down-dropping continues today. Evidence of this can be seen in the fresh scarps exposed near Badwater.

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photo of Death Valley
Looking east across Death Valley

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