Grand Canyon Even Older than Previously Thought

May 23, 2008 03:45 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Recent studies indicate the Grand Canyon is much older than six million years old, as was previously believed.

30-Second Summary

Previously, scientists believed that the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon six million years ago. A study published a month ago in the Journal of Science estimated that the canyon is at least 17 million years old.

However, other recent findings indicate that the entire gorge was not formed simultaneously; rather, it formed in parts, some of which may date back to 55 million years ago. Using uranium-thorium-helium dating, scientists can establish when the rocks were uncovered by erosion. The amount of helium and uranium signifies when the rocks cooled.

Lead researcher Rebecca Flowers of the University of Boulder, Colorado, explains, “It is becoming increasingly apparent that the history [of the Canyon] is more complicated and that different segments developed at different times and subsequently became integrated.”

One of the questions still puzzling scientists is how these segments joined together. No one knows how long it will be before another scientific mystery becomes a closed case.

Headline Links: New evidence about Grand Canyon’s age

Background Links: Formation and Discovery of the Grand Canyon


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