Age of the Grand Canyon


Continuing the discussion from Interpretation & Meaning in Genesis + Sabbath:

@Timtofly Given we have wandered rather far afield from the topic I thought I would start a new thread.

The canyon was formed by the river. How could it have nothing to do with the age?

Since the current river has cut through all the way down to the basement rocks all of those layers had to exist before the river started to form the canyon.

That area has actually been under an inland sea several times in its history. There are layers that were formed and contain marine fossils. Other layers contain wind blown sand and fossils of land animals that include their tracks and remains of their nests so we know it didn’t form under water. And then there are further layers formed under the sea.

The layers also contain evidence that rivers eroded channels in the older layers. These channels contain boulders from layers above them and then are filled in with sediment from even higher layers.

Exactly how could a sea help? There is no flowing water, which is what forms the river channel, in the sea.

Figuring out the correct time frame is a matter of making measurements and being honest in reporting the results. The Bible demands this so yes it does matter.

What evidence do you have that a sea can form in a short period of time?

Flooding doesn’t form a meandering river. We know the types of rivers that are formed as the result of a large flood and they do not form meandering curves. Look up Channeled Scabland. Here is a link.

(Tim) #2

The strata seems to be uniform across the gap. A rapidly forming sea would lay down a uniform strata immediately across the whole sea bed. Especially to such depths as indicated, because the new sea brought the material with it. If you claim it takes millions of years to lay down dozens of feet that is feasible, but if it trickles in what guarantees uniformity? You may get some deposits here and there, but what mechanism causes the sea to even out the layers?

There is another website about the seas themselves that formed the Grand Canyon and they did claim while the river was removing debri, the area itself was being elevated. So I guess earthquakes would be one mechanism.

I still think that it can be proven the Colorado moves more debri consistent with down river and what has been deposited in the Pacific Ocean at the times when the seas emptied and refilled and any major flooding between seas. I will no longer disagree that each can be dated at a certain time. However the formation came about via the coming and going of the seas themselves and not just the river we see today. Each sea added something to the strata, and each time the seas left, some of the Canyon was carried away. Wind and normal weather worked on eroding down the walls as well. I do not know of any claims about seas forming slowly. From all claims I have read a sea is a large body of water that happens within weeks or months. They are usually formed when another nearby body of water empties into an empty basin. As the plates move under each one, it moves water from one basin to the next. Another indication is the Greek reference to Atlantis. I realize the volcano activity spreading the oceans can be dated just like the strata in the Grand Canyon. But could the Greeks be talking about the North American continent moving away from Europe? Even the mention of the Sea peoples being displaced because of rising waters indicate humans experienced the oceans rising and seas moving around from one basin to another.

Dating methods say this is an impossibility. Surely the Mediterranean coming and going would be “news” worthy, unless it was an expected event. The other indication is that the Chinese themselves recorded the control of flood waters that lasted hundreds of years, and perhaps thousands. There was no need to control the Mediterranean. Trade on seas can be more effecient than over land. Crossing a dead salty land area may not be feasible either.

I still hold the view that the world was created sooner than later and it was human choice that allowed for destruction and change in a perfectly created world. Not exactly as presented by humans causing climate change directly. But God nudging conditions indicating human choices and the results of those choices.

I also think that the final event humans will experience is the destruction of the earth into the lake of fire known has the sun becoming so large it pulls the planets back into itself. I guess then all the missing knowledge will be revealed, regardless of the fact all indications claim it is millions of years away. I realize that may mean that this whole universe only existed for a shorter period of time than indicated, for only the purpose of humanity. But then I accept a God who can do anything.

(James McKay) #3

No it wouldn’t. Not the kind of strata you see in the Grand Canyon at any rate.

Some of the strata in the Grand Canyon consist of sedimentary rocks such as shale, which are formed from very fine particles of silt (typically a few microns across). The rate at which these particles can fall through water is limited by Stokes’ Law:

F_d=6 \pi \mu R v \qquad [1]


  • F_d is the drag on the particle
  • \mu is the viscosity of water
  • R is the radius of the particle
  • v is the speed at which it is falling.

The downward force on a particle is:

F_g = (\rho_p - \rho_w) g \frac 4 3 \pi R^3 \qquad [2]


  • F_g is the downward force due to gravity, taking buoyancy into account
  • \rho_p is the density of the particle
  • \rho_w is the density of the water
  • g is the gravitational acceleration (9.81\text{ m/s}^2)

Combining [1] and [2] gives us the terminal velocity:

v = \frac{2}{9}\frac{\left(\rho_p - \rho_w\right)}{\mu} g\, R^2 \qquad [3]

For a particle of, say, quartz or feldspar, ten microns across, we have \mu \approx 1.3 \times 10^{-3} \text { Pa s}, R \approx 10^{-5} \text m, (\rho_p - \rho_w) \approx 1500 \text{ kg m}^{-3}. Plugging these numbers in gives us a quarter of a millimetre per second, or about one metre per hour.

The particles will simply not settle in currents significantly faster than this.

The upshot of this is that sedimentary strata such as shale can ONLY form over very long periods of time in very still water. This is not a process that can be accelerated either. If you decreased the viscosity, you would increase turbulence, making it all the more difficult for the particles to settle.


Many of the layers are limestone. This is not formed by material brought in by the sea but from the sea itself.


Which is why there is such a uniform depth to the layer.

Earthquakes wouldn’t produce the amount of lift needed to drain an inland sea. It is plate tectonics that lifts the land.

If the sea was actually adding a layer at the top of the canyon why didn’t it also fill up the canyon?

In human history sea levels have gone up and down but it was due to ice ages which trapped more or less water at the poles. But the sea level changes, while large enough to be noticed by people, would not be large enough to flood and drain the inland sea the covered the interior of North America.


Nothing like a little math to make a point. It has been more than a little while since I last had to wrestle with math such as this.


(Tim) #6

I am just a novice and view an earthquake as the entire event. I realize it is just a symptom (or is that just a medical term?) Or result of what is going on down in the ground.

So what you are saying with that great math work, has nothing to do with the actual point at which a new sea brings in tons of new material?

Whenever a new sea formed it only brought in water, and only after the sea reached a certain depth, the sediment at the bottom started to form?


An earthquake is the release of energy when there is a slip along a fault line. You could consider it a symptom for the presence of faults in the crust.

James’s point was to show that sedimentary rock doesn’t form in fast flowing water. If you want to propose a new sea was formed at some point it wouldn’t start laying down sediment until the water stopped flowing. Which makes sedimentary rock impossible to form during a global flood, if that is what you are thinking.

Whatever depth was required to cause the water to stop flowing. Also remember the sediment comes from the life in the water so that has to have a chance to get established. It also forms very slowly.

(James McKay) #8

Tim, if you’re going to try to discuss creation and evolution, especially the scientific aspects, you need to have at least some grasp of basic maths. You don’t need to be another Einstein, but you do need to be able to read and understand simple equations and do back-of-the-envelope calculations at the very least. Otherwise you’ll end up making all sorts of wild claims that only tell everyone that you have no idea what you are talking about.

(Tim) #9

I am not talking about evolution, creation, nor the Flood in this thread. I am trying to figure out how the Grand Canyon formed. My claim is it did not need millions of years. I would hazard a guess that maybe 3 or 4 seas formed that covered not just the Canyon but several miles in all directions around the Canyon, otherwise it would have just been a lake. It was only in the last few days I learned that seas were even involved.

(James McKay) #10

Well yes, but there is maths involved in figuring that out.

(Tim) #11

I would also assume the pressure of a large body of water as well?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #12

Here’s a short little summary of the types of things that you would need to explain to explain the Grand Canyon:

(James McKay) #13

Of course, yes.

All I’m saying is, don’t let a few simple equations put you off. Plus, I’m giving you a pointer or two about subjects to brush up on if you want to seriously get to grips with discussions such as these.

(Tim) #14

To be honest, I get all these thoughts in my head, and feel the need to put them somewhere.

I am still not certain about who flood geologist are.

I am not even going to pretend to understand math. At where I am in life and lack of a short term memory, what I post is probably the beginning of the end of one going senile, or one who will not remember anything eventually. I wish that I could grasp all the various aspects of math and could see them from end to beginning. Math and history were my favorite subjects. In the 80’s I was memmorizing the Bible and therioms at the same time, but that was the last time I looked at math. I started reading tons of science fiction and playing 6000 years of civilization over and over hundreds of times.


Instead of guess I would suggest you read a good book on the subject. I would suggest

The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth

Written by Christian geologists. It would probably answer all your questions and several of the things I have said came from that book.

If you are not aware the original flood geologists was Henry Morris and John Whitcomb who took the idea from George Price, a Seventh Day Adventist. The SDA came up with the idea from Ellen White who had a vision of the creation in seven days.

(Chris) #16

“Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon, Utah, [are] examples of dissection, corresponding to the more channelized erosion late in the Flood.”

(Matthew Pevarnik) #17

So in looking at your article all I’m seeing is the author referencing and quoting himself a lot all over the place looking at the sources. One thing that is obviously missing are too many articles from the actual geological community. If such a thing occurred as the author claims it would be very evident in the actual rocks of the earth. Scientist just don’t ignore evidence that they don’t like. So there should be at least writing about it in someway shape or form in the mainstream geological community.

This is not a matter of world views. It is not something where everyone just gets their own opinion of how the Grand Canyon strata were initially laid (ie we can know with certainty it was not a single event). And as for the carving of the canyon itself that is pretty interesting.

Here is a recent article on the carving of the canyon itself (what goes in to the paper to support the hypothesis?):

(Robin) #18

Thanks for all the references here Bill…And you are right about the Morris/Price?White connection…though White was reporting a vision that lasted six, not seven, days so as to justify (or require) worship on a Saturday — which is SDA practice.

I will look intothe book on the
Grand Canyon which you mention here — thanks!!

(system) closed #19

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