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Originally published in Creation 18(2):28, March 1996
The formation of the Grand Canyon is a problem for evolutionists, but fits well into the framework of the Bible.
For more than a century, evolutionary geologists have tried to explain how the Grand Canyon in the United States might have formed slowly over millions of years. Ideas that the Colorado River eroded the canyon, or that enlargement of streams and gullies caused it, have been shown to be improbable. Both these theories have a difficult time explaining where the products of tens of millions of years of river erosion went.
Earle E. Spamer said of the problem: 'The greatest of Grand Canyon's enigmas is the problem of how it was made. ... Grand Canyon has held tight to her secrets of origin and age.'1
Yet the canyon's rock strata can be interpreted well from a creationist and catastrophist view.
Creationist geologist Dr Steven Austin says:
'The crystalline-basement rocks exposed deep within the Canyon (schist, granite, and gneiss) represent some of earth's oldest rocks, probably from early in Creation Week. Tilted, deeply buried strata (the "Grand Canyon Supergroup") show evidence of catastrophic-marine sedimentation and tectonics associated with the formation of an ocean basin midway through Creation Week, and may include ocean deposits from the post-Creation, but pre-Flood world. The Canyon's characteristic horizontally stratified layers (the "Paleozoic Strata") are up to 4,000 feet thick [1,200 metres] and are understood to be broad sedimentary deposits in northern Arizona dating from the early part of Noah's Flood. Remnants of strata overlying the rim of Grand Canyon (the "Mesozoic Strata") are associated with a widespread erosion surface.'2
Dr Austin says that these features suggest tectonics, sedimentation, and erosion during the last half of the Flood year as the Colorado Plateau was lifted more than a mile above sea level.
'The catastrophic erosion of Grand Canyon (probably a result of drainage of lakes) was associated with river-terrace gravels, lake sediments, landslide deposits, and lava flows of the post-Flood period,' he says.3
Rather than being easily explained by evolutionists, the formation of the Grand Canyon is a problem for evolutionists, but fits well into the framework of the Bible.
Earle E. Spamer, 'The Development of Geological Studies in the Grand Canyon', Tryonia 17, 1989, p. 39. Cited in: Steven A. Austin (ed.), Grand Canyon — Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, Santee (California), 1994, p. 107.
Austin, Grand Canyon, pp. 80-81.