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Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories and Mystery

2nd edition, 2012

An All New Edition


The Grand Canyon is one of earth's most recognizable landscapes, yet no single theory can say exactly how or when the canyon formed. The one thing that is known is that it is the Colorado River that is responsible for carving the great gorge and without it there would be no Grand Canyon. Even though the Colorado River has carried away much of the evidence for its earliest history, geologist have unraveled many of the secrets held in this spectacular landscape.

Carving Grand Canyon is one of the very few books that explains in layman's terms the possible sequence of events that may have given rise to the canyon. The text is highly readable with very little use of geologic jargon. Readers will find chapters on how rivers actually carve canyons, a sequential listing and discussion about the various theories that have been proposed through 150 years of scientific study, as well as learn about the geologists who developed these theories. Lastly, a plausible sequence of events that may have formed the canyon is given in a final chapter. 

The book is graced with many color photographs by the author or other well-known southwestern photographers, numerous and colorful illustrations and maps by Bronze Black, paleogeographic maps by Dr. Ron Blakey, and numerous sidebars to expand upon key concepts. A concise summary of the most likely set of events that gave rise to Grand Canyon is included at the end of the book. A glossary, index, and scientific and popular bibliographies are also included.


Carving Grand Canyon

190 pages
All color within
Maps and diagrams
Over 26,000 copies sold (1st edition)


Read reviews of the 1st edition here:

Order a copy today!

Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau

by Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney

Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau is an award winning book written by myself and one of my former professors, Dr. Ron Blakey. This book has won a Glyph Award, given by the Arizona Book Publishers Association! I accepted the award on May 9, 2009 at the Arizona Club on the top floor of the Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix. The category it won was first place in the "Science/Environment" category. Here is the link that lists all of the winners. This breakthrough publication has numerous paleogeographic maps that portray the landscape history of this exceptional region. The maps were created by Dr. Ron Blakey, a former professor of mine at Northern Arizona University and I wrote the text that accompanies his maps. Please follow the link above to see my lecture schedule for when and where I will be giving presentations about this fantastic story. The book is available from the Grand Canyon Association at this link

Ancient Landscapes

Easy Field Guide to Arizona Landforms

A new book about the interesting landforms found in and around the Grand Canyon State

Do geology books always need to be in a large format with colorful photographs? I don't think so. Check out this little gem of a book that is brand new and serves as a guide to Arizona's wonderful landforms. At 32 pages and only 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches, it is not a "thick read" but gives the reader an idea of how the more prominent landforms in Arizona came to be. This book retails for $1.75. You can order it directly from the publisher here or you can get a signed copy from me at this link

Sedona Through Time: A Guide to Sedona's Geology 

Completely Updated and Revised 3rd Edition

Sedona Through Time

Recently republished as an all new 3rd edition! Visitors to the towering red rock cliffs near Sedona seldom realize that the area was once a broad river floodplain that lay beyond the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Or that this same place was later buried in a vast, Sahara-like desert, still later to lie beneath the waters of a warm tropical sea filled with ancient life forms. Sedona Through Time is an eminently readable story of the evolution of this fantastic landscape through the eons of geologic time. $17.95. [How to order]

Defining the Colorado Plateau: A Geologic Perspective

This is the latest issue of the journal of the Museum of Northern Arizona, called Plateau (Volume 6, Numbers 1 and 2). This issue explores the various ways that geologists have defined the Colorado Plateau, with respect to its location, its mode of formation, and how it is differentiated from surrounding terrains such as the Rocky Mountains. The book is richly illustrated with photographs by Adriel Heisley, Michael Collier, Shane McDermott and myself. The issue was beautifully designed by Julie Sullivan. It is priced at $10 and can be purchased from the Museum of Northern Arizona Bookstore here.

Images: Grand Canyon

Written by Charles Bowden and Wayne Ranney

"Images" by Jack Dykinga, Charles Bowden, and Wayne Ranney, and published by Arizona Highways, won two Glyph Awards on May 9. The book contains a collection of Jack Dykinga's greatest Grand Canyon photographs and Bowden and I wrote accompanying articles. The awards were in the "Best Coffee Table/Large Format" category and the "Nature and the Environment" category. Here is the link to read about the award winners in each category.

Click here to order a signed copy of this book from me.

The Verde Valley: A Geological History

The Verde Valley: a Geological History

Volcanoes erupting on a primeval ocean floor, tropical  seas, sand dunes blowing along the coastline of an ancient supercontinent. These are some of the colorful scenes that geologists have reconstructed from the rocks contained within the Verde Valley. Published in 1989, this is Volume 60, Number 3 in the Museum of Northern Arizona's Plateau series. $15.00. You can order a copy from the Museum of Northern Arizona Bookstore here.

Canyon Country

Canyon Country

An overview of the geology of Grand Canyon and other areas of geologic and scenic interest in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Published in 1993, this is Volume 64, Number 1 in Plateau, a quarterly series of the Museum of Northern Arizona. $5.00. You can order a copy from the Museum of Northern Arizona Bookstore here.