When visiting natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, beauty is such that it is impossible to remain insensitive. In short, to enjoy the deep gorge of Arizona it is certainly not necessary to be geologists or lovers of terrestrial changes, just open your eyes wide. The grand canyon tours come up perfectly there.
However, it is also true that having some information on the formation process of this immense natural abyss and perhaps knowing some features can further enrich the visit, allowing us to understand more deeply what we are observing.
For this purpose here is some information on the genesis and history of the Grand Canyon, which will be useful not only for those who are about to visit but also for the simply curious.
How was the Grand Canyon born?
The history of how the Grand Canyon was formed is as fascinating as it is mysterious, so much so that scholars have not yet agreed on many aspects: above all, the depth and breadth of the gorge still constitute true and real their own mysteries which we have tried to explain in various ways. Here is one of the most recent and accredited theories, but if you are looking for a comprehensive overview, take a look here.
Emergence from the sea, from the mountains to a plateau
What is certain is that it is a long story, originated by a process that began a long time ago, about 2 billion years ago. Originally, where the Arizona desert area is now located, 9600 meter high mountains stood, forming a mountain range comparable to today’s Himalaya. In the following 500 million years, glaciations and thaws formed cracks on the sides of the mountains and numerous floods at least 8 covered the entire area several times.
Visiting the Grand Canyon, one of the aspects that most easily catch the eye are the rocky layers of the vertical walls, each characterized by a different shade of color. Each layer corresponds to floods of different ages, which in different periods have deposited different types of rock. On the spot, you will easily notice at least 3 layers: one of sandstone, one of dark schist and another of light limestone, which corresponds respectively to previous deposits of sand, mud and calcified remains of marine organisms. However, the dominant color remains red, which derives from the oxidized iron present in all the rocks.
Layers of the Grand Canyon
On the rocks, there are also signs of a strong volcanic activity, which contributed not a little to the formation of the canyon. Throughout the park, there are about a hundred conical mountains on which calcified dark rock flows easily descend from the edges. These are phenomena that are around 725,000 years old and can be easily observed, for example from ToroweapPoint. The last eruption that carried lava to the bottom of the canyon dates back 100,000 years and some geologists believe that volcanoes are still active and potentially dangerous.
When the water finally withdrew from the area, it brought to light an immense and immense plain that, due to the collisions of the plates, rose up to become a plateau. At this point, the area had completely emerged, but there was no sign of the Grand Canyon.