Rapid Erosion of Grand Canyon Sandbars Discovered

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The place is the Grand Canyon, and the story is an indisputable case of rapid erosion caused by massive amounts of water.

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In an edition of News to Note this past March, we covered the then-upcoming flooding of the Grand Canyon that would be caused by the opening of the Glen Canyon Dam. The flood was planned as part of ongoing efforts to restore an ecosystem that was altered by the Glen Canyon Dam. We noted then:

The planned flood will increase Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon to 41,000 cubic feet (1161 m3) per second for almost three days and will “scour and reshape miles of sandy banks on the floor of the Grand Canyon.”

Our commentary added that the local flood would mimic (to a lesser degree) the power of Noah’s Flood, the receding of which carved the Grand Canyon.

The flood occurred as planned in March. Now, the Associated Press reports that the erosive power of the Glen Canyon was even greater than scientists expected:

Water was released from the Glen Canyon Dam on the Arizona–Utah border in March to mimic natural flooding. Scientists had expected erosion following the flood but they hadn’t expected so much so fast.

According to John Hammill, head of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, the rapid erosion occurred because extra water was later released into the canyon from Lake Powell, which had excess water.

It’s fascinating to see how the power of water repeatedly exceeds expectations. This reminds us that if smaller-scale, shorter-lasting local floods can reshape landscapes today, the global-scale, year-long Flood—which incorporated water from above and water from below—could have reshaped the entire earth in Noah’s day.

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