How Long Does It Take for a Canyon to Form? | The Institute for Creation Research

How Long Does It Take for a Canyon to Form?

ICR has long had a deep interest in magnificent Grand Canyon. This awesome wonder of the natural world, we believe, bears eloquent testimony to the great flood of Noah's day.

Visitors to Grand Canyon as well as eighth grade earth science students have been traditionally taught that the Colorado River, migrating back and forth for 65 million years, coupled with side canyon erosion, has carved out this immense gorge. In recent years, scientists have disproved that idea, leaning now on a great volume of water rushing through the area at a high velocity not very long ago which carved the canyon. (Unfortunately, school students are still being taught the older, long-age model.)

Let me introduce you to Burlingame Canyon near Walla Walla, Washington. It measures 1500 feet long, up to 120 feet deep, and 120 feet wide, winding through a hillside. A small-scale analogy to Grand Canyon it was observed to form in less than six days.

In 1904 the Gardena Farming District constructed a series of irrigation canals to provide water to this normally rather arid high desert area. In March, 1926, winds collected tumbleweeds at a concrete constriction along one of the canals situated on an elevated mesa, choking the flow of water, which at 80 cubic feet per second was unusually high due to spring rains. In order to clean out the obstruction, engineers diverted the flow into a diversion ditch leading to nearby Pine Creek. Prior to this time the ditch was rather small, at no location greater than 10-feet-deep and six-feet-wide, and often with no water in it at all.

The abnormally high flow crowded into the ditch, and careened along until it cascaded down the mesa in an impressive waterfall. Suddenly, under this extreme pressure and velocity, the underlying stratum gave way and headward erosion began in earnest. What once was an insignificant ditch became a gully. The gully became a gulch. The gulch became a miniature Grand Canyon.

The eroded strata consisted of rather soft sand and clay saturated by the recent rains. The dewatering of the saturated sediments into the now-open ditch enhanced the erosion. The rapidly moving water could both dislodge the particles and carry them down stream, leaving underlying sediments vulnerable to erosion. In total, these six days of runaway ditch erosion removed nearly five million cubic feet of silt, sand, and rock.

Yes, canyons can form rapidly. A good maxim to remember is that, "It either takes a little water and a long time, or a lot of water and a short time." But then, we've never seen a canyon form slowly with just a little water. Whenever scientific observations are made, it's a lot of water and a short time.

Cite this article: Morris, J. 2001. How Long Does It Take for a Canyon to Form? Acts & Facts. 30 (12).

The Latest
NEWS
Great Unconformity Best Solved by Global Flood
The Great Unconformity is one of the most baffling mysteries in the geological sciences.1 It is marked by a massive surface of erosion that...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update–Dinosaur Fossils
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Begins!
The Institute for Creation Research launched its 2021 multistate science expedition last week as a nine-member team left the ICR headquarters in Dallas,...

NEWS
Inside September 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR focus on scientific research? How could paleontologists mistake a lizard fossil for a dinosaur? Is animal death before the Fall theologically...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Beauty by Design
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
Defend Your Faith with ICR
Have you ever heard a pastor question the historical nature of Genesis? “The days of creation weren’t really 24 hours long. The Bible is...

ACTS & FACTS
Animal Death Before the Fall?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that death entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (e.g., Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12). Since fossils...

APOLOGETICS
Transmitting Truth in a Modern Pagan World
We share the world with modern pagans who worship the sun—or idolize an imagined primordial Big Bang—so we need to be truth witnesses unto...

ACTS & FACTS
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Hunters in the 1970s discovered mammoth bones exposed in sediments near the confluence of the Bosque and Brazos Rivers in north central Texas. They...