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The age of the Grand Canyon

31 January 2014

At www.nature.com/news/grand-canyon-is-not-so-ancient-1.14584 … and this is somewhat overdue some might say. The story brings to light a geological skirmish over the age of the Grand Canyon. It seems that not all of it is as ancient as consensus would have us all believe. It is usually said to be 70 million years of age. It is now thought some of it is just 5 or 6 millions years of age – still a very long time ago. We might wonder if this story is telling us more about a geological compromise. It is now both 70 million and 5 million years of age – or could it have been formed piecemeal, and just slotted together, one part of the canyon carved out, and later another bit, becoming joined at the hip much later in time. The controversy also involves the Colorado River and its ability to carve such a deep split in the crust – or was the split formed and the river found it as an easy route on its way to California. Hence, if erosion by the river was responsible, it would take a very long time (hence the 70 million year estimate, among other things). Has the river existed in its present form all that time – something to chew on. This story will run again.

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