Cambrian Sixtymile Formation of Grand Canyon yields new findings

Deep inside the Inner Gorge of Grand Canyon, northern Arizona, are the crystalline basement rocks that probably date back even to the Creation Week itself. Clearly visible in the canyon walls are the light-colored granites, such as the Zoroaster Granite, which are stark against the darker, folded strata of the Vishnu Schist and the other metamorphic rock units of the Granite Gorge Metamorphic Suite 1 see lowest purple and green shading in diagram. These are former sedimentary and volcanic strata that have been transformed by heat and pressure, possibly during the intense upheavals when the dry land was formed on Day 3 of Creation Week. These were originally basalt lava flows several meters to tens of meters thick. In some outcrops pillow structures have been preserved, testimony to the basalt lavas having originally erupted and flowed under water onto the Creation Week ocean floor. Metamorphic rocks are not always easy to date using radio-isotopes. Results obtained usually signify the “date” of the metamorphism, but they may also yield the “age” of the original volcanic or sedimentary rock.

19.2 Relative Dating Methods

Figure 1. Grand Canyon National Park preserves an iconic geologic landscape and resources ranging from 1, to million years old, including diverse paleontological resources; unconsolidated surface deposits; a complex tectonic and erosion history; and Pliocene to Holocene volcanic deposits. The Colorado River established its course through the canyon about six million years ago, and likely evolved from pre-existing drainages to its current course.

An unconformity is a surface in the rock record, in the stratigraphic column, representing a time from which no rocks are preserved. It could represent a time when.

The end product of correlation is a mental abstraction called the geologic column. In order to communicate the fine structure of this so-called column, it has been subdivided into smaller units. Lines are drawn on the basis of either significant changes in fossil forms or discontinuities in the rock record i. In the upper part of the geologic column, where fossils abound, these rock systems and geologic periods are the basic units of rock and time.

Lumping of periods results in eras, and splitting gives rise to epochs. In both cases, a threefold division into early—middle—late is often used, although those specific words are not always applied. Similarly, many periods are split into three epochs. However, formal names that are assigned to individual epochs appear irregularly throughout the geologic time scale.

How Was the Grand Canyon Formed?

It is not the widest nor longest nor deepest canyon in the world, but the Grand Canyon of northern Arizona is certainly one of the most impressive and most visited natural wonders found on the planet. Photographs, no matter how spectacular, cannot capture nor prepare one for the awe-inspiring sight of viewing the immensity of this canyon for the first time. Neophytes to the canyon have been known to shed an emotional tear as they initially stand in awe before its colossal grandeur.

Fortunately for all mankind, early political leaders saw its limitless natural value to science and the soul of mankind and preserved this special grand place of earth as a national park years ago, on Feb. Geologists today still do not all agree as to how the Grand Canyon that visitors see today was actually formed. Modern technology and rock-dating techniques have begun to provide evidence questioning the long-held theory that this magnificent gorge is the result of the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau and the erosional forces of a wide Colorado River cutting through the plateau beginning some 5 million to 6 million years ago.

Photo of the Grand Canyon showing expanse of canyon and the various rock layers Figure: The Grand Canyon of.

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Geology of the Grand Canyon area

Most scientists agreed that the Grand Canyon was carved 6 million years ago, until a study in used new data to argue that the canyon was actually 12 times as old. A new study tries to merge the old and new data into a single story. January 27, The debate over the age of the Grand Canyon has raged for over years: It’s old!

It’s young!

Grand Canyon rock layeringThe steep walls of the Grand Canyon contain a number of layers of sedimentary rock laid down over millions of years. The lower​.

The Grand Canyon is one of the supreme geologic laboratories on Earth and, after about years of geologic investigation, one might think that its secrets have been mostly resolved. This is especially true of the flat-lying layered rocks that are so visible from both rims within Grand Canyon National Park. Nearly five decades ago, in the late s, was the last time a new formation was discovered and defined in the Grand Canyon with the discovery of the Surprise Canyon Formation. Their research paper, recently published in Nature Geoscience , titled “Cambrian Sauk transgression in the Grand Canyon region redefined by detrital zircons”, found the Sixtymile Formation sandstone to be much younger than previously thought.

This unit occurs in only four outcrops in a remote and relatively inaccessible section of eastern Grand Canyon. The Sauk marine Transgression occurred during a period of time dating from the to million years ago when the sea level rose across North America leaving behind zircons, commonly found in sand, that contain trace amounts of uranium and thorium mineral deposits within specific sedimentary units enabling researchers to date the deposits.

The age of Tonto Group of Grand Canyon, just overlying and hence younger than the Sixtymile Formation, was the serendipitous discovery. These layers record the marine transgression that inundated North America from its margins to the middle part of the continent Missouri and Oklahoma. Think of it as what might happen today to the relatively flat continent of Australia if sea level rose or the continent subsided several hundred meters.

It was considered to have been deposited over a lengthy time interval from about million years ago, but new detrital zircon grain dating shows it to be younger than the million-year-old sand grains contained in it. Detrital zircon geochronology is the science of analyzing the age of zircons deposited within a specific sedimentary unit by examining their uranium—lead U-Pb ratios.

The researchers tested detrital zircon samples utilizing the U-Pb dating method, which can be used to date rocks that formed and crystallized approximately 1 million years to over 4. To this day, the Cambrian Period to million years ago remains a geologic enigma: why did animal life become so globally diverse during this time; why were many continents flooded by advancing oceans in a way rarely seen before or after; and was there any relationship between these two unique features of Earth’s history?

How Old Is the Grand Canyon?

All rights reserved. Sunrise over Mount Hayden in the Grand Canyon. To the untrained eye, the Grand Canyon might just look like one big hole in the ground.

Geologists refine the timing of the trilobite evolution in Grand Canyon time, and to apply new technologies for precise dating of rock layers.

When asked to imagine the biggest, deepest, longest canyon one can imagine, an image of the Grand Canyon will often pop into a person’s mind. The Grand Canyon is a site of almost unfathomable grandeur, which inspires awe in anyone who sees it. Lately, however, the canyon has also inspired controversy, specifically over its origins. It is generally held by the scientific community that the Grand Canyon formed by the slow erosion of the Colorado River over millions of years.

Steve Austin, however, has proposed an entirely different theory on the age and formation of the canyon and wrote a book explaining his theories titled Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe. Austin believes that the canyon was formed extremely rapidly during the period immediately following the global flood of Noah in the biblical book of Genesis. Austin proposed that the canyon is thousands, not millions of years old.

This fits into the larger field of Creation Science, in which people try to prove with scientific evidence that the world is only 6, years old. This paper will summarize Dr. Austin’s claims and delve into the evidence he uses to support them by examining his book. Austin supports his claim with theories of rapid erosion and Flood deposition of fossils.

He also addresses issues like radiometric dating, in which he attempts to cast doubt on established scientific methods of dating Earth’s features. Austin’s findings became one basis for the RATE project, a creation science team aimed at proving the pitfalls and inadequacies of radiometric dating techniques.

Grand Canyon ‘may date back to the era of the dinosaurs’

September 30, by Beth Geiger. Dinosaurs disappeared about 65 million years ago. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1, years old.

How old are the rocks that make up the Grand Canyon? million years old, while the oldest layers date back as far as billion years.

Skip to Content. New geological evidence indicates the Grand Canyon may be so old that dinosaurs once lumbered along its rim, according to a study by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the California Institute of Technology. The team used a technique known as radiometric dating to show the Grand Canyon may have formed more than 55 million years ago, pushing back its assumed origins by 40 million to 50 million years.

The researchers gathered evidence from rocks in the canyon and on surrounding plateaus that were deposited near sea level several hundred million years ago before the region uplifted and eroded to form the canyon. A paper on the subject will be published in the May issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. The team believes an ancestral Grand Canyon developed in its eastern section about 55 million years ago, later linking with other segments that had evolved separately.

Module 9 Assignment

The simplest and most intuitive way of dating geological features is to look at the relationships between them. There are a few simple rules for doing this. But caution must be taken, as there may be situations in which the rules are not valid, so local factors must be understood before an interpretation can be made. These situations are generally rare, but they should not be forgotten when unraveling the geological history of an area.

The principle of superposition states that sedimentary layers are deposited in sequence, and the layers at the bottom are older than those at the top. This situation may not be true, though, if the sequence of rocks has been flipped completely over by tectonic processes, or disrupted by faulting.

Deep inside the Inner Gorge of Grand Canyon, northern Arizona, are the crystalline basement rocks that probably date back even to the.

For more than a century, tourists from all over the world have visited the Grand Canyon to experience its awe-inspiring vistas. As we celebrate nearly years of protecting this special place, check out 13 great facts about this Arizona icon. The Grand Canyon is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The Grand Canyon is a mile deep, miles long and 18 miles wide. In comparison, Rhode Island is around 1, square miles.

The Grand Canyon itself can influence the weather.

Geology and Ecology of National Parks

The Grand Canyon is a mile-deep, mile wide, mile long 1. The colorful spires, the rocky cliffs, the hidden pocket canyons, the pristine springs laying down lovely deposits, the roaring thunderstorms and arching rainbows are to many the quintessence of the U. When the author, his cousin Chuck, and his sister, Sharon, were hiking the Bright Angel Trail from the North Rim into the canyon, a snake crossed the trail and slithered into some dry grass just at the trail edge.

Sharon, just behind, was not aware of the snake until it stuck its head out and rattled the grass just at her feet.

Teddy Roosevelt called the Grand Canyon one of the great sights that ago, when new layers of rock, known as the Grand Canyon Supergroup, The canyon, with roots dating back billions of years, might shrug off such.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable landforms on planet Earth and the most often asked question about it is, “When did it form? Geologists still debate many of the details about the origin and age of the canyon but recent geologic research has shed new light on the topic. Using new, sophisticated laboratory techniques geologists are able to tease ever more information from the canyon’s seemingly stubborn rocks.

To begin to grasp the age of the canyon we should also know something about the history of the Colorado River, for without this river or at least some ancestor to it there would be no Grand Canyon. But as new techniques are developed to tease ever more information from the canyon’s rocks, the age of the canyon becomes more of a puzzle. Traditionally, the age of the canyon is ascribed at 6 million years but this date refers specifically to when the modern Colorado River came into existence.

Could a precursor to the Colorado River have initiated the cutting of the canyon? Some geologists think so. Click here to enlarge. Image copyright Wayne Ranney. Geologists know that the canyon and the river had to have formed within the last 80 million years because this is when the sea was last present here.

Radioisotope dating of rocks in the Grand Canyon


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