Thursday, June 12, 2008

Which came first, the river or the canyon?

I watched a PBS special a few years ago that presented a contrary theory to how the Grand Canyon was formed.  In fact, it reversed previous notions about water carving out the sides. The new theory was that the canyon came first, in a cataclysmic event millions of years ago, and the water just followed the road of least resistance, just like it always does.

I mention this fascinating challenge to conventional wisdom, which I am inclined to embrace because it goes against the grain, since I just heard the same theory about how the Mississippi river formed. Apparently there was a big split in the continent and the water heading downhill just filled in the hole and became the river we know today. Same with the Ohio river that feeds into the Mississippi. There was probably a big quake back in the day, and when the land split, the water found the route of least resistance.

Speaking of which, Niagara Falls is backing up stream a few inches at a time every year. You've still got time to visit. These days, since more than a week has passed since I saw this concept on TV [so I know it's true], I can't remember why this phenomenon happens. PBS had a fascinating special which showed how the falls got started several miles away from where they are now. Then over thousands of years the weight of the water just kept chipping away at the earth. Over time, the falls kept moving farther and farther down the road. Or up the road. Guess I've got to hit the Google button, to prove that I'm not hallucinating any of this.

Not that anyone could tell the difference.


2 comments:

screaminremo303 said...

There is also an interesting theory on the formation of the Palouse formation in Eastern Washington that suggests the formation is the result of a massive flood when a natural dam broke on a large lake a kazillion years ago.

What I can't figure out is why people continue to live near rivers that flood?

Did they relocate all the Katrina victims to Iowa or are the locals just that stupid?

salemslot9 said...

I did see a show on Niagra Falls
some time ago
very interesting
my mother and step-father went there
for their honeymoon
I went there with my folks
when I was younger
I saw another show on PBS
about people going over the falls
in different ways
that's a good one, too
we wanted to go to the
Grand Canyon 2 years ago
when we went to Las Vegas
didn't make it, then
but, will try again in future