Grand Canyon National Park Resources

Of all the rocky landscapes seen throughout the world, the Grand Canyon highlights some of the most interesting geological formations. Rangers lead talks in Grand Canyon National Park  to convey the importance of the park’s resources and to show why people need to work at maintaining the park’s natural beauty. The Grand Canyon’s formation can be used to learn more about the region where the canyon sits and the history of the landscape there.

While the subject of geology is broad by definition, you can divide the science into a number of subspecialties. Most of these subspecialties relate to the formation of rocks in Grand Canyon National Park.

The Geology of the Canyon

For example, one of these specialty topics is plate tectonics, which focuses on the movement of oceanic and continental plates. The shifting of plates led to the development of the canyon’s large geological formations. This branch of geology explains why layers of canyon rocks, which formed at sea level, are now seen above sea level at 7,000 feet or 2,200 meters.

Stratigraphy is another subspecialty, especially useful in studying the geology of the Grand Canyon. This study concerns the review of rock layers, also called strata. The subject holds a vast amount of data about how the area’s past environments contributed to the formation of rock layers.

Another topic, structural geology, entails the study of the re-forming of the earth’s crust. This subject explains why some canyon rocks are faulted, folded, or tilt to one side while others appear flat. Hydrology, yet another geological subspecialty, explains how the movement of water developed tributaries.

Geomorphology, also a subspecialty, shows how erosion shaped the earth. This subspecialty can be used to demonstrate how erosion carved and created the canyon into its current form.

The Trail of Time

Many geologists enjoy visiting the Trail of Time, located at the South Rim in the Grand Canyon National Park. This small but highly informational display along a well-traveled trail can be reached by shuttle bus. You can walk backward in time if you start at the Yavapai Geology Museum and stroll west.

Doing so will permit you to experience the entire history of the Grand Canyon geologically by going back in time. Begin by walking the Million Year Trail. Each meter represents one million years of canyon geological history. The one-hour walk enables you to witness panoramic views of the Grand Canyon while you contemplate its amazing development. Walking guides are featured on either end of the path.

Learning About The Grand Canyon’s Formation And History

All the rocks that were carved in the canyon were deposited before the canyon’s formation 6 million years ago. You will find that each rock tells a story about the canyon geological history. For example, most of the rocks in the canyon are described as sedimentary. A sedimentary rock may be composed of small fragments of a pre-existing rock, chemical precipitates, such as salt, or deceased organisms.

At the Grand Canyon, the three primary sedimentary rocks include sandstone, limestone, and shale. You can gain a “deeper” understanding (pun intended) when you visit the canyon’s South Rim.

About the Author

Kyle Gooverton

Kyle Gooverton

A Grand Canyon enthusiast! A local Las Vegas resident that loves the flora and the fauna of all things Southwest.