The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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August 20, 2013

Enid native gets award for research excellence

An Enid native who now is a research geologist in Arizona was awarded the Geological Society of America’s 2013 Kirk Bryan Award for Research Excellence.

Kyle House, a 1983 graduate of Enid High School, is lead author of a research paper that helps explain how and when the Grand Canyon and the lower Colorado River took their present form, a mystery that has vexed geologists for more than a century.

“Stratigraphic evidence for the role of lake spillover in the inception of the lower Colorado River in southern Nevada and western Arizona,” by House, Phil A. Pearthree and Michael E. Perkins, was written while House worked for the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. He now works for U.S. Geological Survey.

The paper describes geologic evidence supporting lake spillover as a primary factor in the origin of the course of the lower Colorado downstream from the Grand Canyon.

By unraveling key details in the geologic record of the river’s first arrival downstream from the canyon, House and his co-authors provided new and strong support for earlier arguments that the present-day lower Colorado River developed 5 to 6 million years ago, and presented evidence of a formation process involving a stair-stepping series of filling and spilling lakes.

The award came with a $5,000 stipend, which House shared with his co-authors.

House said he stumbled upon the evidence while he was doing other work.

“We were working on a geological map and we found layers of sediment that could only be explained by having catastrophic failure of lakes,” House said.

House said he has studied the lower Colorado River about 13 years.

“Where I work is in the hot desert downstream from the Grand Canyon,” House said. “I work out of Flagstaff, Ariz.”

Carrie House, Kyle House’s wife, is a freelance book designer, whose family has been in Enid for at least 50 years, House said.

Barbara Wilcox, public affairs specialist for USGS, said House’s work has resulted in a new regional geologic mapping project, led by House and the USGS Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center, focusing on the lower Colorado River.

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