SEP 21, 2016 5:12 AM PDT

How the Grand Canyon Got so Grand


The Grand Canyon is exactly that, one of nature's grandest creations. It's 277 miles long, 18 miles across at its widest point and is dug deep into the ground at more than a mile into the surface of the Earth. It didn't just happen overnight, it's the product of millions of years. It was formed in part by the Colorado River that runs through it, but larger rivers exist and have not resulted in canyons like the Grand.

The history of it can be seen in the rock layers. As each stage happened, a trail was left behind of erosion and then regrowth of different plant and animal species. Based on the age of the rocks at the bottom experts agree that 1 billion years ago, it was a mountain, that was eventually worn down to small hills by rain and wind. From there, ancient oceans that existed in the area would periodically rise and fall, leaving behind layers of sandstone, shale and limestone that can be seen in the patterns of the canyon today. After that shifting of the continental plates under the Earth's surface created large rivers and lakes, including the Colorado which carries 500,000 tons of rocks and silt through the canyon every day. It was this constant barrage that cut the chasm of the Grand Canyon so deep. Rain and wind caused it to widen.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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