The Lost Grand Canyon of Egypt, Part III: A Brief Chronology of Events

A massive canyon lays hidden below the Nile Valley in Egypt.  In Part II we looked as how this massive canyon was formed. Before we go on to look a bit deeper into this canyon and how it fits into Biblical chronology lets look at the chronological sequence of historical events – according to the consensus of geological experts – that must have occurred to form the Nile River Valley that we observe today:

  1. The basement rock of metamorphic rock – granite – formed.
  2. On top of this granite multiple layers of sedimentary fossil-bearing rocks were deposited.
  3. A river formed which cut through the upper-layers of the sedimentary rock.
  4. The Mediterranean basin experienced periods of desiccation resulting in lower water levels.
  5. As the Mediterranean sea level dropped, the Nile River eroded more deeply into the sedimentary rock and then the granite below.
  6. The Mediterranean basic refilled resulting in the formation of a lake in the Nile Valley were the canyon had been.
  7. Starting at the southern end of this lake the Nile River brought in sediment which started filling the lake.  Eventually the lake was filled all the way up to where the Nile River delta is today.
  8. Only after the sediments filled the valley and the river could take a meandering path between the boundaries of the upper canyon walls did the valley itself become available for human occupation.
  9. The Egyptian civilization developed and the pyramids were constructed.
The Nile Valley is easily seen against the barren deserts of Egypt.

The Nile Valley is easily seen against the barren deserts of Egypt.

When did this happen and how long did it take for the Nile Valley to form?

Geologist studying the Mediterranean basin have determined that this Messinian Salinity Crisis occurred over a long period of time – 6 million and 5.3 million years ago – in which sea levels in the basin where The crisis came to an abrupt end around 5.3 mya when the Straits of Gibraltar opened up allowing for the entire basin to be refilled with sea water from the Atlantic Ocean.

At this point the lake in the Nile Valley formed and filling of that lake could begin.  Glen Morton, an ex-YEC advocate and professional geologists has thoroughly studied the geological literature about the Messinian Salinity Crises, has written about the problems that the Nile River creates for YECs.   Regarding this filling of the Nile Valley lake after the salinity crisis I quote Morton with respect to how quickly that process could occur:

The volume of Nile sediments in the canyon (determined by measuring the width and depth of the canyon from seismic data) is 200 x 10^12 cubic meters (Rushdi Said, “The Geological evolution of the River Nile,” in Fred Wendorf and Anthony E. Marks, Editors “Problems in Prehistory: North Africa and the Levant,” (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1975), pp 7-44, p. 15).

The Nile River inputs 121 x 10^9 kg of material per year to the delta. That works out to be 50,500,000 cubic meters per year (121 x 10^9 kg/ 2400 kg/m^3). [see Scott M. Mclennan “Weathering and Global Denudation”, Journal of Geology, 101:2, p. 296)

Dividing these two numbers we have 3,960,396 years for the length of time it took for the Nile, with observed depositional rates to fill up the canyon. Thus the delta, which protrudes from the African coast started about 1 million years ago. The Nile has been in place for about 5 million years. This is consistent with radioactive dating of the time of formation of the canyon.

Here we see that the sediment load of the river and the amount of sediments needed to fill the valley work well with the radiometric dating of the origin of the canyon.  Even if were to grant that the Nile River had three times the water volume in the past, the massive lake in the canyon would have taken a million years to fill with sediment.  This is a critical piece of data that must be explained by any view of the age of the Earth.

The Nile Valley canyon is not unique

As surprising as finding a massive canyon below the Nile Valley may be this is not the only buried canyon in this part of the world.  All of the other major rivers that empty into the Mediterranean Sea sit on top of buried canyons though none so far have been shown to be as large as the Nile Valley canyon.  These canyons, which can run hundreds of miles inland and reach well below today’s sea level, offer further compelling evidence that the Mediterranean basin experienced significantly lower water levels in the distant past.

In summary…

Altogether, the salt deposits below the Mediterranean basin, massive deposits of sediments on top of those salt deposits from the cutting of the canyons in to the basin, the presence of canyons all around the Mediterranean basin, and the presence of massive sedimentary deposits with compositions that match rocks from upstream sources all point to a long history of events that led to the creation of the Nile River valley as we see it today.

Coming up…

In the next post we will ask what the lost canyon of the Nile tells us about Biblical chronology and age of the Earth.   In other words, were does the Nile canyon fit in the Biblical narrative.   Before I provide an answer, just ask yourself what would Abraham have seen when he traveled to Egypt the first time?

A cross-section of teh Nile River valley at Sohag - about half way between Cairo and Aswan - showing how types of rock that the canyon in eroded into and that it is filled with clays, sands and gravels as one would predict if it were a lake filled by a river sediment. Figure from: Ahmed, Ayman A., Adly Omer, Ahmed Yousef, and Shaymaa Rizk. "ASSESSMENT OF NITRATES AND THEIR HEALTH IMPACT IN QUATERNARY GROUNDWATER AQUIFER OF SOHAG GOVERNORATE, EGYPT."

A cross-section of teh Nile River valley at Sohag – about half way between Cairo and Aswan – showing how types of rock that the canyon in eroded into and that it is filled with clays, sands and gravels as one would predict if it were a lake filled by a river sediment. Figure from: Ahmed, Ayman A., Adly Omer, Ahmed Yousef, and Shaymaa Rizk. “ASSESSMENT OF NITRATES AND THEIR HEALTH IMPACT IN QUATERNARY GROUNDWATER AQUIFER OF SOHAG GOVERNORATE, EGYPT.”

Cover image credit: Painting, by Carlo Mancini, of the Great Pyramids on the distant shore of the Nile River. By Jean-Marc Pascolo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (creativecommons.o…], via Wikimedia Commons

Comments

  1. I just want to say that I enjoy your blog immensely. Please keep them coming!

    Like

  2. Agreed, Great Blog. I almost went into Geology in college, but ended up as a surgeon. Still love Geology and the geological history of the Nile is new to me and fascinating. Looking forward the the next Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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