Canyons are found throughout the world and many are popular sites for hiking, rafting, camping or simple admiration. These geological formations -- sometimes also known as a gorge -- are formed over time by erosion; consequently, today, canyons are found between cliffs and many canyons feature rivers that run through them.
Types of Canyons
Not all canyons are created the same. Box canyons are smaller canyons with walls on three sides. The cliffs of these canyons are usually very steep. Slot canyons are narrow on the ground. These canyons are formed by occasional bursts of water cutting through a small area. Submarine canyons are created by currents from the ocean -- so they are underwater -- and tend to occur at the point where a large body of water flows into the ocean.
There are several famous canyons throughout the world. The most famous of all is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River and is 277 miles long as well as over 5,000 feet deep. Arizona's Horseshoe Bend is another well-known canyon. This canyon is literally shaped like a horseshoe. Also, the Tara River Gorge, in Montenegro, is Europe's longest, at 51 miles and is also a World Heritage Site. Mexico's Copper Canyon is actually a series of canyons formed by six rivers and is home to the Tarahumara tribe.
Canyons in Outer Space
Both the planet Mars and Saturn's Moon Tethys are home to canyons. On Mars, the Valles Marineris canyon system -- also known as the "Grand Canyon of Mars" is approximately 4,000 kilometers long -- the length of the United States. At points, the canyons can be 600 kilometers deep and 100 kilometers wide. Saturn's moon Tethys hosts Ithaca Chasma, a canyon running about 2,000 kilometers across the moon and reaching, at times, 100 kilometers deep.
The Word "Canyon"
The word "canyon" is an Americanism of the Spanish word "cañon." In Mexican Spanish, the word "cañon" was used to refer to a pipe, tube or gorge. The creation of this Americanism can be traced back to 1834 or 1835. The root of the word is the Spanish word "cano," which means "tube." Today the word is used throughout the world to refer to a deep valley or gorge.
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