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Earth Science

Grand Canyon Is "Frankenstein" of Geologic Formations 132

sciencehabit writes "It's a debate that has vexed scientists for decades: Is the Grand Canyon young or old, geologically speaking? Both, a new study declares. A group of scientists reports that the famed formation is a hybrid of five different gorges of various ages--two of three middle segments formed between 70 million and 50 million years ago and between 25 million and 15 million years ago, but the two end segments were carved in the past 5 million to 6 million years--and the Colorado River only tied them into a single continuous canyon 5 million or 6 million years ago."
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Grand Canyon Is "Frankenstein" of Geologic Formations

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:18AM (#46077711)

    You have no idea what Frankenstein means, do you? Try reading it sometime. Here's a hint: start by reading the subtitle.

    • You get that "Jackass pedant of the day" award. "Frankenstein" has a well known cultural meaning as well, and the article's usage of the term is consistent with that.

      Seriously, why are practically all the highly rated comments to this article nothing but pedantic nitpicks?

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:24AM (#46077735)

    ... another instance of Agile development?

  • by Mr. Firewall ( 578517 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:40AM (#46077827) Homepage

    A formation is a layer of sediment that has been compacted into rock. There's more to the formal definition, but that will suffice for now.

    The Grand Canyon cuts through dozens of formations, but cannot, itself, be a formation.

    So much for "news for nerds."

    • There is much wrong with this article.
      Geeks today aren't what they used to be.

    • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:25AM (#46078597) Homepage

      I'm all for precision in language, but in day-to-day speech a 'formation' is just something that is formed, and the grand canyon is indeed a formation even if it is not a 'geologic formation' proper. It's a bit like if mechanics decided to formally call washers 'round things' and then got particularly upset when a ball bearing was casually referrered to as a 'round thing' as well.

      • by hicksw ( 716194 )

        Formations are rocks. The Grand Canyon is a hole.

        I am more fascinated by the claim that the Colorado River 'joined up' the earlier bits.

        What cut those earlier bits? Links by email, please.
        I look up and all I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go. a few hundred, meh.

  • by gerardrj ( 207690 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:41AM (#46077837) Journal

    Not the cobbled together monster!

    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )

      Not the cobbled together monster!

      I thought Frankenstein was an Edgar Winters Group song.

      • by hubie ( 108345 )
        Ba-ba ba ba b-ba ba baaaaa, ba-ba ba bo-ba!
      • Finally, someone says something intelligent in this thread! KUDOS!
      • I thought Frankenstein was an Edgar Winters Group song.

        Which was specifically so-named because they spliced so many bits of different takes that it reminded them of the original monster. So they got it wrong (monster vs. creator) too.

        Meanwhile: if the Grand Canyon is a result of merged gouge events, clearly it's evidence of Intelligent Eroding!

    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      Was that before William Hartnell

    • Frankenstein's Monster is, in a way, his child. Victor Frankenstein begat Monster Frankenstein. Now you can dial the pedantry either up or down a notch.

      • Frankenstein's Monster is, in a way, his child. Victor Frankenstein begat Monster Frankenstein.

        No -- the monster is NOT, in any sense, "his child."

        The monster was created by combining previously living components from various sources. I can say the same thing if I build a desk from dead trees. I "begat" the desk -- it thus must be "Desk AthanasiusKircher." Or, I could weave a shirt out of cotton. I thus "begat" the shirt -- it is thus "Shirt AthanasiusKircher." QED.

        Wait... what? No. The world doesn't work like that.

        "Ah," you say, "but these aren't human."

        Okay, sure. Let's try that.

        • The monster was created by combining previously living components from various sources. I can say the same thing if I build a desk from dead trees. I "begat" the desk -- it thus must be "Desk AthanasiusKircher. [...] (By the way, I know you're tempted to talk about inventions that sometimes get named after their inventor.

          Yes, and in fact we refer to an invention as the child of a person all of the time.

  • Google River View (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beaverdownunder ( 1822050 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:44AM (#46077855)

    For those who don't know, you can cruise through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River via Street (River) view... but who the hell is the guy in the sunglasses?,-113.116608&spn=0.215596,0.885086&sll=-34.880632,138.660651&sspn=0.030277,0.055318&t=h&hnear=Grand+Canyon&z=11&layer=c&cbll=36.180623,-113.116661&panoid=3hhY7tdbII1RSBq3fRGQ6A&cbp=12,41.4,,0,-2.93 []

    • Nevermind the guy in the sunglasses. How long can the guy in the grey hat hold his breath?
    • Or if you've got the gumption you can row a raft down the river itself like I did 2 years ago. Pictures are nice but they can't really give you the true scope of it all. There's absolutely nothing like being there.

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        Sigh. Of course you're right, but life is too short to do all the really cool things we want to do. Worst of all, there are now too fucking many people to do a lot of it the way we want to. Did you know that the only way to hike the Inca Trail now is to go with one of two groups (one of 40 and the other of 70 people) allowed per day? When I did it there were 4 of us that got off the train, and we didn't see anyone else for the next three days until we got to the ruin. Well, hopefully I'll be hiking the

        • Sounds like a good adventure. I of course glossed over some of the difficulties in rafting the Grand Canyon. Getting an actual permit is difficult and the whitewater and logistics of a 2-3 week trip in the Grand Canyon are not for beginners and the cost isn't trivial either.

    • What's with the exclamation point if you turn to the right?

  • These gorges are not fooling anyone. They can add parts that are only 5 million years old, but they still look old as dirt.

  • Prediction: (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:55AM (#46078531)

    Within a couple of weeks creationists are going to start pointing to this finding as evidence that scientists are never to be trusted. If they keep changing their mind on things, how do we know they are right now? If scientists can't give a clear answer, the creationists will argue, we must turn to the one eyewitness account we have of all history - the bible. Which is infallable, of course.

    • Modded as funny, but sadly this is very insightful of how creationists think. They value consistency over everything. Therefore in their minds the constant message of "God Did It" is much firmer ground over the ever-changing explanations of science. The fact that these ever-changing explanations come as the result of new data or that the changes are often minor don't matter. The mere fact that science changes makes it unreliable and the fact that religion stays the same* makes it the one to count on.

      * O

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is too many geologists resemble Baptist preachers in their adherence to what they believe is the truth, and lose the skepticism that should mark any good scientist. For example, there is much to be said for the theory that the Colorado River is simply following the path of least resistance through an area where an ancient sea had drained. The canyons were cut by eroding water as the sea disappeared.

      • "They value consistency over everything."

        I am not a creationist, but consistency is the number one assumption of science. Scientist insists that nothing has ever changed in 70 million years. The air pressure is the same. Humidity is the same. Temperature never fluctuates beyond a couple of degrees (or it is Manmade CLIMITE CHANGE RUN!). Recorded history is only 6,000 years old, but apparently over the other 69,994,000 years no changes to the earth happened. If things did change then most of science is

  • I've heard that idea offered by geologists. Especially before the Colorado Plateau road. Like Coding Classes, Nature likes to reuse old structures if it can.
  • ...say the Grand Canyon was formed last Tuesday, or something like that. Carved out by the Arc, that sat lower in the water because of all the dinosaurs on board. You betcha.
    • Last Tuesday? No, you old-Earth Creationist, His Noodliness created it along with the rest of the Universe five minutes ago.

      What, you remember events in your life that happened longer ago than five minutes? Well, He created you with those memories already in your brain!

      Go ahead, prove it ain't true meanwhile, I'll have another plate of spaghetti, please.

  • BUNK! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WildYaker ( 3514923 )

    I live by the Grand Canyon. These scientists are idiots. Most of us that live here know that the Grand Canyon was formed in a very short period of time. It did not take millions of years to form. Scientist get one thing stuck in their head and then can't think of anything else. Answer me one question... if you can answer it then it will prove to me that the Grand Canyon developed over millions of years. Where is all the dirt?

    With any river system where erosion occurs there is a delta. With the Grand

I've got a bad feeling about this.