Monday, October 24, 2016
The Continental Divide and the Making of Wyoming
The Continental Divide, or the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, is something everyone asks me to explain. Especially in Wyoming, where you cross it twice on I-80.
In general, a continental divide is the dividing line on a continent where the water on one side of the divide drains into the ocean on that side of the continent, and the water on the other side of the line drains into the sea on the other side of the continent.
Sometimes, though, the water drains into a basin that is too low for the water to then go anywhere else. This is called an endoheic basin. Essentially, that basin is considered the "base level" of that region, and the water isn't ever going to make it to the far-away ocean. Where a continental divide meets an endorheic basin, such as Wyoming's Great Divide Basin, the continental divide splits and encircles the basin, making a bowl.
For an absolutely fascinating look at our water system, check out this article!
River Basins of the US