London: A new research has suggested that the world famous Grand Canyon took its present form relatively recently, and most of it was put in place just five to six million years ago, which is youthful in geological terms.
Earlier studies had claimed that the canyon, which snakes through the American state of Arizona, was perhaps 70 million years old.
Although the recent research agreed that some segments are very ancient, it suggested that the full system is young.
Prof Karl Karlstrom from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque said, they are refuting that the `old canyon model` which has argued that the Grand Canyon was carved 70 million years ago in the same place and to nearly the same depth as the modern canyon.
The researcher said they are also refuting the `young canyon model`, which claims the canyon was cut entirely in the last six million years. Instead, they show that the Colorado River used some old segments as it found its path from the Rockies to the Gulf of California in the past six million years.
The researchers found that two of the three central segments- known as the `Hurricane` segment and the `Eastern Grand Canyon`- were indeed ancient palaeocanyons. The former was cut between 50 and 70 million years ago; the latter was incised some 15 to 25 million years ago.
However, they determined that the two end segments of the canyon - the `Marble Canyon` and the `Westernmost Grand Canyon`- had to have been carved in the last five to six million years, when the Colorado River managed to link up the full system that everyone recognises today.
The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.