Did You Know The Grand Canyon Won’t Confirm? Cracking the Grand Canyon’s “Great Unconformity” Mystery!

It’s one of the seven wonders of the world.

You simply can’t capture all of its natural wonder in a camera shot.

But I tried.

A panoramic shot doesn’t come close to getting it, and I tried closer, more specific shots as well:

As the National Park website notes:

“Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. The park is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon; a mile deep, and up to 18 miles wide. Layered bands of colorful rock reveal millions of years of geologic history.” 

It’s those “layered bands of colorful rock” that are under discussion today…

And Now…The “Great Unconformity!”

When I saw the headline, I had no idea what they were referring to, but science has a way of cracking things, and it cracked the canyon.

Here’s what the story said:

The Grand Canyon may be a geologic marvel, but it’s also a geological puzzle—one that may have finally been cracked. The puzzle is known as the “Great Unconformity”, explains a release at Phys.org.

Apparently the canyon, layers of rock about 520 million years old, sit directly atop layers roughly 1 billion years older. The cutoff, visible to the naked eye, was first pointed out by geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell in the 1860s. Since then, scientists have been trying to answer a basic question: Where did a billion years of rocks go?

Before I answer, here’s video I shot of the southern rim of the Canyon:

The report continues:

Geology Now, a study out of the University of Colorado published in the journal suggests an answer. We can blame Rodinia, an ancient supercontinent that researchers say wreaked havoc on the landscape when it broke up and washed those “missing” rocks into the ocean, according to Forbes.

“The Great Unconformity is one of the first well-documented geologic features in North America,” says lead author Barra Peak. Above layers of rocks that have been pushed together vertically at the canyon’s bottom, “you have these beautiful horizontal layers that form the buttes and peaks that you associate with the Grand Canyon.”

There you go, that answers it all!

Oh, and you can hike to the bottom of the canyon if you like…here’s a sneak peek at the path down:

OK Everyone, Say It Together: “Thermochronology”!

Back to science:

To figure out how this came to be, Peak’s team used a method called “thermochronology,” which detects ancient heat signatures in rock formations caused by enormous pressure. They concluded that when Rodinia broke up, it “may have torn at the eastern and western halves of the Grand Canyon in different ways and at slightly different times—producing the Great Unconformity in the process,” per the release. The Great Unconformity is not unique to the Grand Canyon, but the canyon makes the phenomenon easy to see.

Of course, if you wan to see it all for yourself, just hike down!

This is such a spectacular destination, the only thing that comes close is taking the train here – where Cowboys hold you up!

It’s all part of a magical ride to the Canyon – much better than driving the last two hours – here are all of the details!

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Let me know how you feel about the non-conforming canyon!

Categories: Art, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, nature, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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7 replies

  1. Lovely photos, I would like to go someday


  2. Isn’t it great when these long-time mysteries are solved? I have a friend who hiked in and got overheated. It was a scary situation. They packed her out by horse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to visit Grand Canyon a lot when I lived in LA…Your posting made me nostalgic😆 I still haven’t gone gown to the bottom of the canyon so maybe soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the fact that a billion years of rocks went ‘missing’. Makes our short time on Earth seem laughable by comparison.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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