The Info List - Glen Canyon Dam

--- Advertisement ---

A canyon (Spanish: cañón; archaic British English
British English
spelling: cañon)[1] or gorge is a deep cleft between escarpments or cliffs resulting from weathering and the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales.[2] Rivers have a natural tendency to cut through underlying surfaces, eventually wearing away rock layers as sediments are removed downstream. A river bed will gradually reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water into which the river drains. The processes of weathering and erosion will form canyons when the river's headwaters and estuary are at significantly different elevations,[3] particularly through regions where softer rock layers are intermingled with harder layers more resistant to weathering. A canyon may also refer to a rift between two mountain peaks, such as those in ranges including the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, the Himalayas or the Andes. Usually a river or stream and erosion carve out such splits between mountains. Examples of mountain-type canyons are Provo Canyon
in Utah
or Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
in California's Sierra Nevada. Canyons within mountains, or gorges that have an opening on only one side, are called box canyons. Slot canyons are very narrow canyons that often have smooth walls. Steep-sided valleys in the seabed of the continental slope are referred to as submarine canyons. Unlike canyons on land, submarine canyons are thought to be formed by turbidity currents and landslides.


1 Etymology 2 Formation

2.1 Box canyon

3 Largest canyons 4 Cultural significance 5 Notable examples

5.1 Africa

5.1.1 Namibia 5.1.2 South Africa 5.1.3 Tanzania

5.2 Americas

5.2.1 Argentina 5.2.2 Brazil 5.2.3 Canada 5.2.4 Colombia 5.2.5 Mexico 5.2.6 Peru 5.2.7 United States

5.3 Asia

5.3.1 China 5.3.2 India 5.3.3 Others

5.4 Europe

5.4.1 England 5.4.2 France 5.4.3 Others

5.5 Oceania

5.5.1 Australia 5.5.2 New Zealand

6 Canyons on other planetary bodies 7 See also 8 References 9 External links


Sumidero Canyon, Mexico

The word canyon is Spanish in origin (cañón,[4] pronounced [kaˈɲon]), with the same meaning. The word canyon is generally used in North America
North America
while the words gorge and ravine are used in Europe
and Oceania, though gorge and ravine are also used in some parts of North America. In the United States, place names generally use canyon in the southwest and gorge in the northeast, with the rest of the country graduating between these two according to geography. In Canada, a gorge is usually narrow while a ravine is more open and often wooded. The military-derived word defile is occasionally used in the United Kingdom. Formation[edit] Most canyons were formed by a process of long-time erosion from a plateau or table-land level. The cliffs form because harder rock strata that are resistant to erosion and weathering remain exposed on the valley walls. Canyons are much more common in arid than in wet areas because physical weathering has a more localized effect in arid zones. The wind and water from the river combine to erode and cut away less resistant materials such as shales. The freezing and expansion of water also serves to help form canyons. Water seeps into cracks between the rocks and freezes, pushing the rocks apart and eventually causing large chunks to break off the canyon walls, in a process known as frost wedging.[5] Canyon
walls are often formed of resistant sandstones or granite.

Snake River
Canyon, Idaho

Sometimes large rivers run through canyons as the result of gradual geological uplift. These are called entrenched rivers, because they are unable to easily alter their course. In the United States, the Colorado River
Colorado River
in the Southwest and the Snake River
in the Northwest are two examples of tectonic uplift. Canyons often form in areas of limestone rock. As limestone is soluble to a certain extent, cave systems form in the rock. When these collapse, a canyon is left, as in the Mendip Hills
Mendip Hills
in Somerset
and Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
in Yorkshire, England. Box canyon[edit] For the Colorado canyon, see Box Canyon, Colorado. A box canyon is a small canyon that is generally shorter and narrower than a river canyon, with steep walls on three sides, allowing access and egress only through the mouth of the canyon. Box canyons were frequently used in the western United States
United States
as convenient corrals, with their entrances fenced.[6] Largest canyons[edit] The definition of "largest canyon" is imprecise, because a canyon can be large by its depth, its length, or the total area of the canyon system. Also, the inaccessibility of the major canyons in the Himalaya contributes to their not being regarded as candidates for the biggest canyon. The definition of "deepest canyon" is similarly imprecise, especially if one includes mountain canyons as well as canyons cut through relatively flat plateaus (which have a somewhat well-defined rim elevation). The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
(or Tsangpo Canyon), along the Yarlung Tsangpo River
in Tibet, is regarded by some as the deepest canyon in the world at 5,500 m (18,000 ft). It is slightly longer than the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
in the United States.[7] Others consider the Kali Gandaki Gorge
Kali Gandaki Gorge
in midwest Nepal to be the deepest canyon, with a 6400 m (21,000 ft) difference between the level of the river and the peaks surrounding it. Vying for deepest canyon in the Americas are the Cotahuasi Canyon
Cotahuasi Canyon
and Colca Canyon, in southern Peru. Both have been measured at over 3500 m (12,000 ft) deep. The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
of northern Arizona
in the United States, with an average depth of 1,600 m (one mile) and a volume of 4.17 trillion cubic metres,[8] is one of the world's largest canyons. It was among the 28 finalists of the New7Wonders of Nature
New7Wonders of Nature
worldwide poll. (Some referred to it as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.[9]) Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon
in Chihuahua, Mexico
is deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon. The largest canyon in Africa is the Fish River
in Namibia.[10] In August 2013, the discovery of Greenland's Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
was reported, based on the analysis of data from Operation IceBridge. It is located under an ice sheet. At 750 kilometres (466 mi) long, it is believed to be the longest canyon in the world.[11] The Capertee Valley
Capertee Valley
in Australia is commonly reported as being the second largest (in terms of width) canyon in the world.[12][13]

Panoramic view of the Capertee Valley
Capertee Valley
in Australia, the second largest (in terms of width) of any canyon in the world

Cultural significance[edit] Some canyons have notable cultural significance. Evidence of early humanoids has been discovered in Africa's Olduvai Gorge. In the southwestern United States, canyons are important archeologically because of the many cliff-dwellings built in such areas, largely by the ancient Pueblo people who were their first inhabitants. Notable examples[edit] The following list includes only the most notable canyons of the world, arranged by continent and then country. For a more complete list, see List of canyons. Africa[edit]

Fish River
Canyon, Namibia


Fish River

South Africa[edit]

Blyde River
Canyon, Mpumalanga Oribi Gorge, Kwa-Zulu Natal


Olduvai Gorge

Americas[edit] Argentina[edit]

Atuel Canyon, Mendoza Province


Canyon, Brazil

Canyon, Rio Grande do Sul


Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
of the Stikine, British Columbia Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta Niagara Gorge, Ontario Ouimet Canyon, Ontario


Chicamocha Canyon, Santander Department


Copper Canyon, Chihuahua Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas


Colca Canyon, Arequipa Cotahuasi Canyon, Arequipa

United States[edit]

Green River
overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Antelope Canyon, Arizona Black Canyon
of the Gunnison, Colorado Canyon
de Chelly, Arizona Canyonlands National Park, canyons of the Colorado River
Colorado River
and its main tributary the Green River, Utah Columbia River
Gorge, Washington and Oregon Glen Canyon, Utah
and Arizona Glenwood Canyon, Colorado Grand Canyon, Arizona Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone, Wyoming Hells Canyon, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington Palo Duro Canyon, Texas Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico Snake River
Canyon, Idaho Waimea Canyon, Hawaii Zion Canyon, Utah


One of the Three Gorges
Three Gorges
of the Yangtze
river, China


Three Gorges, Chongqing Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Tibet Autonomous Region


Gandikota, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh Raneh Falls, Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh


Kazakhstan—Charyn Canyon Nepal—Kali Gandaki Gorge Pakistan—Indus River
Gorge through the Himalaya

Europe[edit] England[edit]

Cheddar Gorge, England

Avon Gorge, Bristol Cheddar Gorge, Somerset


Ardèche Gorges, Rhône-Alpes Daluis Gorge, Provence Gorges du Tarn Verdon Gorge, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence


Aare Gorge, Switzerland

Albania—Osum Canyon Bulgaria—Trigrad Gorge Greece—Vikos Gorge Greenland—Greenland's Grand Canyon Iceland— Fjaðrárgljúfur
Canyon Kosovo—Rugova Canyon Macedonia—Matka Canyon Montenegro—Tara River
Canyon Norway— Sautso
Canyon Poland/Slovakia—Dunajec River
Gorge Switzerland—Aare Gorge

Oceania[edit] Australia[edit]

Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Australia

Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory Kings Canyon, Northern Territory Murchison River
Gorge, Western Australia

New Zealand[edit]

Manawatu Gorge, North Island Skippers Canyon, South Island

Canyons on other planetary bodies[edit]

Ithaca Chasma
Ithaca Chasma
on Saturn's moon Tethys Valles Marineris
Valles Marineris
on Mars, the largest known canyon in the solar system Vid Flumina
Vid Flumina
on Saturn's largest moon Titan is the only known liquid-floored canyon in the solar system besides Earth[14]

Venus has many craters and canyons on its surface. The troughs on the planet are part of a system of canyons that is more than 6 400 km long. See also[edit]

Environment portal

Antecedent drainage stream Canyoning Draw (terrain) Geomorphology Gully Steephead valley Valley


^ "canon". archaic spelling of canyon  ^ Society, National Geographic (20 May 2011). "canyon". National Geographic Society.  ^ Ward Cameron. "Understanding Canyon
Formation".  ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Canyon". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  ^ "The Geology of the Grand Canyon". Retrieved 2015-10-01.  ^ "box canyon". Encarta World English Dictionary. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2009-08-04.  ^ "China Virtual Museums: Canyon". Kepu.net.  ^ "Park Statistics". National Park Service. USA.  ^ Truong, Alice (1 July 2011). "Everything About the Grand Canyon". Discovery Communications. Retrieved 5 February 2012.  ^ Cohen, Callan; Spottiswoode, Claire & Rossouw, Jonathan (2006). Southern African Birdfinder. p. 210. ISBN 1-86872-725-4.  ^ " Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
of Greenland Discovered under Ice". news.discovery.com.  ^ Fitzsimons, David (14 December 2015). "Capertee Valley: Australia's own Grand Canyon". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved March 28, 2016.  ^ Kruszelnicki, Dr. Karl S. (22 May 2012). " Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
is not so grand › Dr Karl's Great Moments In Science". ABC Science. Retrieved March 28, 2016.  ^ Valerio Poggiali, Marco Mastrogiuseppe, Alexander G. Hayes, Roberto Seu, Samuel P. D. Birch, Ralph Lorenz, Cyril Grima, Jason D. Hofgartner, "Liquid-filled Canyons on Titan", 9 August 2016, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL069679/abstract

External links[edit]

Look up canyon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Media related to Canyons at Wikimedia Commons

v t e


Large-scale features

Drainage basin Drainage system (geomorphology) Estuary Strahler number
Strahler number
(stream order) River
valley River
delta River

Alluvial rivers

Anabranch Avulsion (river) Bar (river morphology) Braided river Channel pattern Cut bank Floodplain Meander Meander
cutoff Mouth bar Oxbow lake Point bar Riffle Rapids Riparian zone River
bifurcation River
channel migration River
mouth Slip-off slope Stream pool Thalweg

Bedrock river

Canyon Knickpoint Plunge pool


Ait Antidune Dune Current ripple

Regional processes

Aggradation Base level Degradation (geology) Erosion
and tectonics River


Deposition (geology) Water erosion Exner equation Hack's law Helicoidal flow Playfair's law Sediment

Category Portal

Authority control