Grand Canyon may be as old as dinosaurs: U.S. research

Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:13pm EST

Overall view from the south Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river near Tusayan, Arizona August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Overall view from the south Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river near Tusayan, Arizona August 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

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(Reuters) - New research suggests the Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, may have a far more interesting and ancient history than previously thought, a U.S. study said on Thursday.

Instead of being shaped by the Colorado River 5 or 6 million years ago, a new analysis of the minerals in the 280-mile (450-km) gorge suggests it was formed by a much older river likely frequented by the dinosaurs that roamed North America some 70 million years ago.

The research, published in the journal Science, adds a new component to 150 years of wrangling over the exact age of the mile-deep canyon in Arizona, according to University of Colorado Assistant Professor Rebecca Flowers.

A new method of measuring radioactive decay from minerals in the soil suggests the gorge is 70 million years old, Flowers, who worked with Professor Kenneth Farley of the California Institute of Technology one of the project, said in a telephone interview.

The team examined soil samples from both the western and eastern parts of the canyon, and their findings confirmed a similar study published last year based on a study of just one side of the canyon.

It suggests that the canyon would have been carved by a river that existed before dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago and before the existence of the modern Colorado River system, a 1,450-mile-long (2,333-km-long) body of water that flows from Colorado to Mexico.

"At that time, the topography of the landscape in the Western U.S. looked very, very different than today," she said.

In fact, the elevation of the land in the West was higher and that ancient river would have flowed in the opposite direction of the Colorado River, she said.

(Reporting By Caroline Humer; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (2) wrote:
A wooden board coming with illustrations in the Grand Canyon Park tells the Canyon has only 5 million years history and was formed by the bulging or swelling land being carved by Colorado River. The board said the land’s swelling is the major reason for that the Canyon is so grand. I didn’t believe that. Now, they prove the Canyon has much longer history that previously thought. That makes much sense to me. It is time itself to make the Canyon so grand.

Dec 01, 2012 4:38pm EST  --  Report as abuse
simonor wrote:
The Seven Wonders of The World were classical man-made structures in ancient times.
The Grand Canyon is only one of the seven natural wonders, which were an invention of barbarians in the sixties.
Do try to keep up Miss Humer.

Dec 02, 2012 5:35am EST  --  Report as abuse
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