How Was the Grand Canyon Created? From the Great Pyramid of Giza up to the peak of Mt. Everest down to the great depths of the Grand Canyon lie many mysteries on how these natural wonders of the world were created. Some may have been created by the grueling labor of man or the everlasting work of Mother Nature. Over time, numerous ideas and hypothesis have been cleverly created and scientifically backed to explain the phenomenon on the creation of these marvelous sites. One of many favorites that gradually created over the past 2 billion years is the one and only Grand Canyon.
The secrecy of this creation has been exposed with 4 different hypothesis all backed by science, however not a sole reasoning has been established. Today I am here to explain my reasoning on which hypothesis I believe is the true victim to the case of how the Grand Canyon actually formed. First I believe it is crucial to quickly review the four hypothesis that are brought to the table, and then I will elaborate my reasoning of which hypothesis is most accurate. We will begin with the Lake-Overflow method proposed in 1861 by John Strong Newberry.
This method was simply water spilling over a low point of the basin rim called a sill and drain across a sufficiently steep slope to instigate incision. This means water basically cuts through bedrock and flows between. Next is Antecedence, proposed in 1875 by John Wesley Powell. Antecedence works when the Kaibab Plateau begins to uplift beneath the Colorado River, causing the rivers bed to become sharply steeper. The steeper river provides the impetus for the river to cut into its bed. The third hypothesis is Superimposition proposed in 1948 by Arthur Strahler.
This hypothesis is based off of water resting on top of rock, over time finding weak spots, fracturing and faulting in areas. This weaker area will erode more quickly and undermine any overlying resistant sandstone and limestone layers. The last hypothesis was presented by Eddie Mckee, known as the Stream Piracy in 1964. This idea is basically the idea the Hualipai Drainage that erodes across the Kaibab Plateau and captures the Colorado River, creating its present course. To this day one of the four hypotheses still serves as a key to unlock one of the most controversial mysteries of all time.
The only problem is nobody can truly prove which theory is correct because nobody has been around billions of years to watch what truly occurred over time and all four hypotheses have a valid argument that makes sense. Sad to say nobody will ever truly solve this mystery but happily humans all have their own opinions. I personally think the creation of the Grand Canyon can be a mixture of the ideas created in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, but the one that resides at the top of my list would be the theory of Lake-Overflow.
The Grand Canyon, with its many layers of sediment, also led me to believe the 2 billion year story of how the layers follow the Law of Superposition. Again this is where the youngest rocks are on top, oldest on bottom. If this was to be your reasoning of how the Canyon started, you would see 9 distinctive layers that give evidence to how and what was going on millions of years ago. I think this is a good answer, but today I’m here to pick the best answer with the most conclusive evidence. So this leads me to still favor Overflow over superposition.
This theory has not only been created by Newberry’s work but later revamped with added material by the work of Eliot Blackwelder. I believe Newberry was on to something and Blackwelder was aware of this. The Lake-overflow hypothesis of when a large body of water spills across the Kaibab Plateau, initiating the incision that started the making of the Grand Canyon makes the most sense. Not only has this been proven to happen such as the large lake that overspilled the Manix Basin and initiated the incision of Afton Canyon, but has been tested in a smaller scale.
Science has shown this idea has been proven to occur in the right situation and when field evidence is presented, it makes for a strong argument. In conclusion, I believe in Blackwelder’s hypotheses because much of the idea could also happen today. Based on a large number of similar cases between drainage of large bodies of lakes, caused by the lake overflow hypothesis, it is a simple explanation for the initiation of the Grand Canyon and the development of the Colorado River.
The Grand Canyon has been transforming the last 2 billion years, and in fact, is still transforming today. Planet Earth is surely an impressive piece of art, and has self created many remarkable sites to go visit. The Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world is a must see presentation. Next time you go visit, just remember the four hypothesis of; Lake-Overflow, Antecedence, Superimposition, and Stream Piracy, and decide for yourself what Mother Nature has been up to for the past millions of years.