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Grand Canyon through time: a geologic timeline

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is America’s greatest geologic wonder. Shaped by erosion of the Colorado River and its tributaries, the Canyon offers a landscape of grand-in-themselves side canyons, buttes, mesas and plateaus, with an unprecedented window into 2 billion years of Earth history.  


Brian Gootee’s illustrated history, ‘Geologic Timeline of Grand Canyon’, unwinds the paleogeography, sea level change, rocks, tectonism, magmatism and prominent life forms into an aperitive dish that all can savor. For educators, this illustrated history and accompanying text form a bridge linking deep geologic time to the geologic features and the processes that shape the natural world.


The Geologic Timeline of the Grand Canyon is accompanied by a ‘How to Use’ guide, column descriptions and a brief geologic history created to help readers, day hikers, backpackers, residents or river runners grasp the events that shaped the canyon, between the intense deformation of the Yavapai Orogeny about 1.75 billion years ago, or the 260-million-year old marine limestone at the Canyon Rims, or carving of the Grand Canyon in the past 5 million years.


Release of this timeline coincides with Grand Canyon National Park's centennial and the sesquicentennial celebration of John Wesley Powell's exploration of Grand Canyon.


The timeline is accompanied by a supplemental document with a recommended reading list and technical references used to the build the illustrated history.

Gootee, B.F., 2019, Geologic Timeframe of the Grand Canyon. Arizona Geological Survey Open-File Report OFR-18-02, with Supplemental resource document for Geologic Timeline of the Grand Canyon 2 p.