Layers of Learning in the Grand Canyon

Perhaps you have been to Niagara Falls to see the 3,000+ tons of water falling 160 feet every second. Maybe you have stood at the base of the California Redwood trees in astonishment at their enormous size and age. (Some were most likely standing when Jesus walked upon the Earth 2,000 years ago.) Perhaps you have been to Alaska to gaze upon the tallest mountain peak in North America—Denali, which stands over 20,000 feet high. (Denali is so towering that you can see it on a clear day from the city of Anchorage—130 miles away!) 

As amazing as these sights are, many people would argue that the most jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, never-get-tired-of-looking-at-it place on Earth…is the Grand Canyon. There are good reasons why some six million people every year travel to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon. 

The Canyon is 277 miles long and, on average, 10 miles wide. [Though its narrowest point is “only” 600 feet wide (at Marble Canyon), at its widest point, it is 18 miles across (a mighty width it reaches in several places).] 

NASA image of the Grand Canyon from space

And how deep is the canyon? It averages about 4,000 feet in depth but reaches as much as 6,000 feet from top to bottom. That’s more than one mile deep! 

The Grand Canyon is so big that you can actually see it from space. Astronauts have taken many pictures of the Canyon from outer space through the years.

I’ve had the pleasure of gazing upon the Grand Canyon at dawn and at dusk, at noon and at midnight. I’ve seen the Canyon from the top and the bottom—by foot, car, plane, raft, and helicopter. I recently floated 187 miles through the bottom of the Canyon on the Colorado River. 

Here are four notable observations related to science and the Bible that we thought our Discovery readers would like to consider about the big, bold, and beautiful layers of rock seen throughout the Grand Canyon.

  1. Sedimentary rock is formed when water carries sediment (such as sand, silt, shale, and lime) and deposits that sediment over a particular area. When the water retreats or is “squeezed” out of the sediment (due perhaps to other heavy sedimentary layers being laid down on top of the previous deposit), eventually, the sediment hardens to become “sedimentary rock.”
    At the Grand Canyon, visitors can clearly see several horizontal layers of sedimentary rock (such as the Coconino Sandstone and the Redwall Limestone) extending thousands of feet high. Interestingly, the sedimentary rock at the Grand Canyon in Arizona often extends hundreds or even thousands of miles into other states and countries.
    Question: Would a worldwide Flood in the days of Noah have provided sufficient water and force to carry and deposit trillions of tons of sediment into Arizona and elsewhere around the globe? Absolutely!
  1. Though evolutionists teach that extremely slow and gradual processes formed the various sedimentary rock layers in the Canyon over hundreds of millions of years, the layers tell a different story. From the top layers of the Canyon down thousands of feet to the bottom of the Tapeats Sandstone (the lowest layer of sedimentary rock in the Canyon), the different layers of rock rest upon each other in an amazingly smooth, even manner. The sedimentary rock layers are stacked like pancakes—one on top of the other. 
    Evolutionists allege there are millions of years of missing time between the layers. But if millions of years had passed between the formation of one layer to the next, one would expect to see large amounts of uneven erosion between the layers. Yet, such expected erosion is not present (but should be if evolution is true). The “millions of years of missing time” are a figment of man’s imagination. The evidence argues against such a theory. A much more rapid depositing of sedimentary layers (one laid down soon after another, such as in a worldwide Flood) explains the physical evidence much better.
  1. Suppose you have a small piece of dry, hardened sandstone in your hand. What always happens to such sedimentary rock when you try to bend or fold it? It breaks and crumbles to pieces. (It does not bend.)
    Within the Grand Canyon are several places where major bending of sedimentary rock is evident. Interestingly, the stone is not cracked but a continuous, smooth, yet folded layer. 
    How could this bending of the rock have happened if sedimentary rock breaks when you try to bend it? Answer: The sediment must have been folded (due to disturbances from below) soon after the sediment was deposited—when it was still somewhat soft and bendable and had not had time to harden into rock. This folding is evidence that the layers did not form over millions of years but were quickly deposited (and occasionally folded) before hardening into rock.
    Creation geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling has spent years studying the folding of rock layers in the Grand Canyon. He has demonstrated that even the microscopic evidence indicates that the folded layers became rock at the same time the flat layers did. They were all part of the same big event, not separate events over many millions of years.
  1. The fourth and final puzzle piece we want you to consider is all the fossils throughout the Grand Canyon. Under normal conditions, when living things die, they decay and rot; they do not fossilize. Fossilization nearly always requires rapid burial in just the right conditions (such as a flood, where a lot of mud, silt, and other fine sediments are deposited).
    In the layers of sedimentary rock in the Grand Canyon are billions upon billions of fossils. You can see fossilized worm and trilobite trails, animal footprints, and a host of marine organisms. Marine organisms known as nautiloids (which are squid-like creatures with a shell) are found fossilized throughout the Canyon in the lower Redwall Limestone. (There is even a side canyon in the Grand Canyon where so many nautiloid fossils are easily seen that they call the canyon “Nautiloid Canyon.”) Scientists estimate that billions of nautiloid fossils exist in and around the Grand Canyon.
    These billions of marine fossils were not caused by a dry drought or a calm sea. They testify to a catastrophic event that caused the animals’ quick and utter demise. 

There are many more clues that the layers of sedimentary rock in the Grand Canyon (and around the world) are the result of a great catastrophe (namely the global Flood) and not the alleged billions of years of slow and gradual processes of evolution. We did not have the space in this Discovery issue to discuss all of those evidences. For a ton of great information on the Flood, the Grand Canyon, and much more, check out AP’s book by Dr. Jeff Miller titled Flooded, and visit


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