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"Naked Planet" airs on PBS-TV at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 

Natural Wonder

Geologists say it's of relatively recent origin. "Relatively" is the key word here.

The Grand Canyon first appeared about six million years ago, when a river began its work of erosion. The rocks that were exposed in the Canyon walls as the flow of water deepened its gorge are not so young. Most of them were originally deposited as marine sediment, and at the Canyon's bottom you can see Precambrian schists and gneisses from half-a-billion to a billion years old.

The Canyon had been there a long time before the first Europeans saw it. They were members of a group led by a Spaniard, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who set out from what is now Mexico in 1540. By about 1850, the U.S. Army was surveying the Canyon. Just over 100 years later, the Glen Canyon Dam was built in Arizona in 1963.

The philosophy seems to be that man can always improve on nature.

A "Naked Planet" special airing on PBS-TV at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, will take you on another exploration of the Canyon and demonstrate that human attempts to dam it and drain it pale when compared to the sheer power of nature. "Grand Canyon" will employ today's TV technology — time-lapse photography, 3-D computer animation, slow motion and even the Oscar-winning Flying Cam — to show you one of the most amazing natural wonders earth has to offer.

It's no wonder that Teddy Roosevelt, in 1903, declared that the Grand Canyon is "a great sight that every American should
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