How Deep Is The Grand Canyon?

How Deep Is The Grand Canyon

Situated on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park measures 1,218,375 acres and is considered a World Heritage Site. Known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon consists of raised plateaus and structural basins, but also of few forests found at higher elevations while most of its lower elevations consist of semi-arid land with very little vegetation.

Famous of its size and its unique beauty, the Grand Canyon has been one of the most studied geologic landscapes on the planet for generations. This is mainly due to its rich and diverse fossil record, multiple rock types, its many caves, a multitude of geologic features, and unique paleontological resources. Furthermore, the Grand Canyon is considered by specialists to be the perfect example of arid-land erosion occurring naturally.

As for its size, the Grand Canyon is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 277 miles long. The widest it ever gets throughout is length is 18 miles at its widest point, averaging 4,000 feet in depth throughout its entire 277 miles. What’s interesting about the Grand Canyon is that despite being 6,000 feet at its deepest point, it isn’t the deepest canyon in the world by a long shot. The deepest canyon on the planet is the Kali Gandaki forge in Nepal which is 18,000 feet deep.

Throughout its 6 million years history, the Grand Canyon has been carved by drainage systems, forming multiple steep-walled canyons while also giving birth to several major ecosystems. The Grand Canyon’s biological diversity is expressed in five unique life zones: Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian. Furthermore, the Grand Canyon National Park features three distinctive desert types and 129 vegetation communities.

Speaking of its life zones, the Grand Canyon’s biological diversity contains over 89 mammalian species, 1,500 plant types, 47 reptile species, 9 amphibian species, and 17 fish species throughout its entirety. Also, the park is considered an ecological refuge to many smaller ecosystems that can hardly be found anywhere else. Among them, we find dwindling ecosystems like boreal forests and desert riparian communities, but also numerous plant and animal species that are either protected or endemic.

Scientists admit that although they do not fully understand how the Grand Canyon was formed, they believe that it was the Colorado River that carved the Grand Canyon 6,000 feet deep throughout its 277 miles length. As the Colorado River carved its way through layer after layer of rock through the Grand Canyon, it exposed almost two billion years of geological history, giving us a much needed understanding of how not only the canyon was formed, but also of how continents and mountains were formed.

According to the many geological studies conducted on site throughout the Grand Canyon, it is believed that the canyon is at least 6 million years old, although recent studies claim that it is in fact much older. Yes, recent studies have shown that although 6 million years is a very long time, it actually took the Grand Canyon 17 million years to be formed.

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the most complete geologic columns in the world and although geologists are uncertain of its exact age, they agree that its 6,000 feet depth could hardly be achieved by drainage systems in ‘just’ 6 million years.

Interestingly enough, we see the Grand Canyon as this tremendous display of Mother Nature’s greatness, yet human beings have called it home for thousands of years. Throughout history, the Grand Canyon has been inhabited by Native Americans almost continuously, thanks to its numerous caves that provided shelter for their settlements. The first European to have ever seen the Grand Canyon, however, was a Spanish explorer by the name of Garcia Lopez de Cardenas who saw it in 1540.

All things considered, the Grand Canyon’s beauty stands not in its 6,000 feet depth, although it undoubtedly one of the many reasons why the Grand Canyon is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.