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The Grand Canyon Tells the Story of North America Knowing how and where rocks are formed allows us to read the story written in the rocks. A mile thickness of rocks of the Great Plains are exposed by uplift and erosion by the Colorado River. Rocks of the Grand Canyon

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the grand canyon tells the story of north america

The Grand CanyonTells the Story of North America

Knowing how and where rocks are formed allows us to read the story written in the rocks.

A mile thickness of rocks of the Great Plains are exposed by uplift and erosion by the Colorado River.

rocks of the grand canyon
Rocks of the Grand Canyon

Separate the larger puzzle into a series of smaller puzzles (I.e., each group of rocks)

  • Metamorphic rocks (oldest)
  • Intrusive igneous rocks
  • Sedimentary rocks lying on an irregular metamorphic surface
  • Sedimentary layering
  • Erosion of the canyon

(Youngest event)

rocks of the grand canyon3
Rocks of the Grand Canyon

Each group of rocks is separated by a gap in the geologic record (formations and contacts)

  • Metamorphic rocks  Metamorphism
  • Granite  Intrusion of silicic magma
  • Eroded surface  Uplift and erosion
  • Sedimentary rocks  Shallow inland seas
  • Erosion of the Canyon  Recent uplift
metamorphic and igneous rocks
Metamorphic and Igneous Rocks
  • Metamorphism of sedimentary rocks
  • Igneous intrusion during later stages of metamorphism (during mountain building)
  • Uplift and erosion (during and after mountain building)

(nonconformity)

sedimentary rocks
Sedimentary Rocks
  • Deposition of sediments on eroded metamorphic and igneous rocks.
  • Uplift and erosion exposing sedimentary layers and
  • Eventually expose Igneous and metamorphic rocks again

G Uplift and

Renewed

Erosion

erosion and exposure
Erosion and Exposure
  • Uplift and erosion exposing sedimentary layers and
  • Eventually Igneous and metamorphic rocks again

G Uplift and

Renewed

Erosion

G Uplift and

Renewed

Erosion

formation of the grand canyon
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Limestone

450

Million Years Old

300

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon8

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

Formation of the Grand Canyon

Erosion

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Limestone

450

280

million years ago

Regional Uplift

Tilting (or folding)

formation of the grand canyon9

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

Formation of the Grand Canyon

Erosion

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Limestone

450

270

million years ago

Regional Uplift

formation of the grand canyon10

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

Formation of the Grand Canyon

Erosion

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Limestone

450

260

million years ago

Regional Uplift

formation of the grand canyon11

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

Formation of the Grand Canyon

Erosion

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Limestone

450

250

million years ago

Regional Uplift

formation of the grand canyon12

Regional Uplift, Tilting, or folding) causes Erosion

  • Erosion surface indicates gap in geologic record
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

Limestone

450

Gabbro (790)

240

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon13

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Sedimentation (e.g., clay)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

220

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon14

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Sedimentation (e.g., lime mud)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

210

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon15

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Sedimentation (e.g., quartz sand)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

200

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon16

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Sedimentation (e.g., immature sand)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

190

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon17

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

180

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon18

Regional Uplift, Tilting (or folding), Erosion

  • Erosion surface, gap in geologic record
  • Continuous Sedimentation
  • Sedimentation ceases
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

170

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon19

Erosion of horizontal beds

Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Erosion

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

160

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon20

Erosion of horizontal beds

  • Loss of geologic record (i.e., Arkose)
  • Formation of a horizontal erosion surface
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Erosion

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

150

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon21

Erosion of horizontal beds

  • Loss of geologic record (i.e., Arkose)
  • Formation of a horizontal erosion surface
  • Renewed Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Sedimentation (e.g., reef)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

140

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon22

Erosion of horizontal beds

  • Loss of geologic record (i.e., Arkose)
  • Formation of a horizontal erosion surface
  • Renewed Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Limestone (140)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(280)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

130

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon23

Erosion of horizontal beds

  • Loss of geologic record (i.e., Arkose)
  • Formation of a horizontal erosion surface
  • Renewed Sedimentation
Formation of the Grand Canyon

Quartz Sandstone

(200)

Arkose

(190)

Limestone (140)

Limestone

(210)

Shale (220)

Sandstone

350

Shale

380

Gneiss(1,500)

Granite(290)

450

Limestone

Gabbro (790)

120

million years ago

formation of the grand canyon24
Formation of the Grand Canyon
  • Deciphering Relative Ages
    • Principles give sequences of geologic events
    • Unconformities indicate gaps in the geologic record

Limestone

Quartz

Sandstone

Disconformity

Angular Unconformity

Limestone

Shale

Sandstone

Shale

Gneiss

Granite

Limestone

Gabbro

Nonconformities

uplift and erosion
Uplift and Erosion
  • As the land is lifted up by tectonic forces
  • A stream will attempt to maintain its base level by
  • Cutting down into the rocks due to accelerated erosion