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

Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:43am IST

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

(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)

Life & Entertainment

Reuters Showcase

Beef Ban

Beef Ban

After beef ban, Hindu groups force abattoirs to close   Full Article 

RBI Rate Cut

RBI Rate Cut

RBI surprises with post-budget rate cut.  Full Article 

Documentary Banned

Documentary Banned

Documentary on 2012 Delhi gang rape banned in India.  Full Article 

Axed By Censor

Axed By Censor

Fifty Shades of Grey’s future gets greyer in India  Full Article 

Bollywood Focus

Bollywood Focus

Franchise Man swoops in to save Bollywood.  Full Article 

Snowden seeks Return

Snowden seeks Return

Fugitive ex-NSA contractor Snowden seeks to come home - lawyer.  Full Article 

Carry Your Litter

Carry Your Litter

Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash.  Full Article 

Reuters Interview

Reuters Interview

Budget lacks wow, but good enough: Jim O’Neill.  Full Article 

Defence Budget

Defence Budget

China defence budget rise to defy slowing economy.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage