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How old is the Grand Canyon ?

Posted on Monday, 27 January, 2014 | Comment icon 19 comments

Some parts of the canyon are believed to be only 6 million years old. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Selbst Gemacht
New research has suggested that the iconic geological formation may be a lot younger than thought.
A popular destination for tourists from all over the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is the largest canyon on the planet at 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and over 6,000ft deep. How long ago this spectacle formed however remains a point of contention among scientists.

A 2012 study by Rebecca Flowers of the University of Colorado had suggested that the canyon was up to 70 million years old, placing its formation at a time when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.

A more recent study however conducted by a different team using a technique known as thermochronology, which identifies when hot rocks from deep underground first reach the surface, has suggested that at least some parts of the canyon could be a lot younger at just 6 to 7 million years old.

"It will take a bit more time to understand fully why their interpretations are so different from ours and why they conclude that the erosion history varied so dramatically within this short reach of the canyon," said Flowers.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (19)

Tags: Grand Canyon

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Metal Head on 28 January, 2014, 3:01
Oh no, and here I thought the Creationists were gonna be leaping for joy at their 6,000 year old theory.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Leonardo on 28 January, 2014, 15:36
Went to the Canyon on a trip to the USA over 15 years ago (was it really that long ago!), and it is magnificent place. If you do go, try to get on a tour that will take you on a walk down the canyon and back out again. Physically it's a strain, but the sights you'll see make it worthwhile - not least the colours on the canyon walls as the sun rises (you have to start out before sunrise because there is no shade on the way down.)
Comment icon #12 Posted by LimeGelatin on 28 January, 2014, 17:11
I am no degreed scientist, but I've always assumed it was formed by at least one ice age, and that it possibly took several different ice ages to erode it to the point at which it is today... -That's just common sense speaking through me though...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Calibeliever on 28 January, 2014, 17:17
This is just from memory but didn't I hear a theory years ago that at least part of the Grand Canyon might have been formed very rapidly when a glacial dam broke and sent a ton of water down through it in a short amount of time?
Comment icon #14 Posted by toast on 28 January, 2014, 18:20
DOB 14DEC70125855 BC 14:34PM (UTC)
Comment icon #15 Posted by Colonel Rhubarb on 28 January, 2014, 18:49
... as opposed to leaving you there? Yes, I expect it's probably a good idea to pay that little extra ...
Comment icon #16 Posted by Leonardo on 28 January, 2014, 18:58
Lol! I suppose the "and back out again" was a bit redundant. It's a 2 hour walk down, and a near 8 hour walk back out (and up) again!
Comment icon #17 Posted by LimeGelatin on 30 January, 2014, 17:37
No, you heard that it was formed when the terra firma was destroyed by GOD and it rained for forty days and forty nights... Or, maybe that was the first theory I ever heard... Don't mean to superimpose or anything like that... -LoLzzz
Comment icon #18 Posted by Calibeliever on 30 January, 2014, 18:45
Yes, that was reported in this respected and peer reviewed publication some time ago. It's not fact? It was written by a Doctor. [u] [/u]

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