Vast "Grand Canyon" Lurks 8,200 Feet BENEATH Cairo, Egypt
Beneath Cairo, Egypt, is a gargantuan buried canyon—the “Nile Canyon”, which is about the same width (6-12 miles) and age (about 5-6 million years) as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but 4 times longer (808 vs. 199 miles) and 1,500 feet deeper (8200 feet vs. 6825 feet)!
Furthermore, the buried Nile Canyon has a steeper (1:400 vs. 1:625) gradient than the Grand Canyon. (1) The length of the ancient buried Nile Canyon, now nearly filled to the brim with massive amounts of marine and fluvial sediments, can be traced as far inland as the Aswan High Dam, 600 miles to the south. The Nile River is the longest river in the world, flowing northward from the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Blue and White Nile Tributaries
The source of the Blue Nile and its major tributary, the Atbara River, are the 7,000+ foot Ethiopian highlands in the northwest corner of that country, opposite the Great Rift Valley that cuts up the northeast side of that country.
The source of the White Nile is in central Africa where the massive rainfall runoff is collected in a series of lakes, including Lake Victoria and Lake Albert. Interestingly, much of the water that these lakes might otherwise contribute to the White Nile (and thence to the Nile River) evaporates in the extremely flat and vast bogs and swamps of southern Sudan known as the Sudd. Beyond the northern rim of the Sudd (around 1,200 feet above sea level), the White Nile accepts two tributary rivers named the Bahr el-Ghazal and the Sobat River, flows northward to meet the Blue Nile River just north of Khartoum, Sudan, and there forms the mighty Nile River.
The Nile flows over six cataracts on its way to Egypt’s Lake Nasser, formed by impounding the river behind the Aswan High Dam (around 500-600 feet above sea level) completed in 1970.
How was the Nile Canyon Discovered?
The USSR funded construction of the High Aswan Dam in southern Egypt beginning in 1960 under Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970). A Russian scientist named I.S. Chumakov was a member of the Soviet engineering team that built the enormous dam across the Nile River at Aswan (1960-1970). Chumakov was in charge of drilling a series of bore holes into the Nubian bedrock, according to one account, from bank to bank in order to locate a secure foundation for the dam. “When it came time to drill at the river’s center line, the hole had penetrated the usual twenty to thirty feet of riverbed silt and sand but then continued another nine hundred feet in these sediments before the bit struck the granite substrate.” (2) The engineers in this way discovered an extraordinarily deep and narrow gorge belonging to an ancient hidden river.
Furthermore, when Chumakov and his coworkers examined the column of sediments brought up from the deep gorge, they discovered Pliocene (began 5.1 million years ago) age deep-sea ooze in the bottom-most sediments, sandwiched between Nile mud and granite bedrock. This meant that somehow the Mediterranean had encroached inland as far as Aswan some 5 million years ago to deposit the marine ooze. Chumakov concluded that the ancient river beneath the current Nile River was in fact “a spaghetti-thin arm of the Mediterranean as it existed about five million years ago.” (2) Lest there be any doubt that this arm connected with the salty Mediterranean Sea, Chumakov found in the ooze not only the tiny shells of marine plankton but shark’s teeth!
Chumakov was excited to later read in an account in the “New York Times” excerpted to “Pravda” of the findings of Kenneth J. Hsu and his colleagues who drilled into the floor of the Mediterranean from a specially-designed ship named the “Glomar Challenger”, as described elsewhere. (3) Hsu’s findings corroborated Chumakov’s findings. To wit, Hsu discovered that the Mediterranean had dried out after isolation from the Atlantic Ocean pinpointed to between 5.59 and 5.33 million years. (4) The isolation of the two bodies of water (Mediterranean and Atlantic) occurred probably secondary to tectonic forces pinching off the Strait of Gibraltar between what is now Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain).
Mediterranean Salinity Crisis and the River Nile
Hsu, et al, postulated in 1973 that “a desiccated Mediterranean…dictates that the base level of erosion must then have been thousands of meters below the sea levels. Shelf seas should have withdrawn from continental areas, and coastal plains and newly exposed shelf should have been dissected by rejuvenated streams. They should have cut canyons of steep gradients hundreds of meters into a slightly older marine sediment, and should have left alluvial and terrestrial clastics [sediments] in the channels.” (5)
Such an important regression has indeed been deciphered from the available geological records on land, such as Chumakov’s findings. Hsu specifically noted that “the River Nile at Aswan cut a gorge 200 meters [600 feet] below sea level [Aswan is about 500 feet above sea level]. It should be recalled that Aswan is a long way upstream, some 1,250 km from the coast; buried beneath the…alluvial [river, not marine] sediments of the Nile Delta area is a grand canyon comparable to the Grand Canyon of Colorado [sic]. Similar buried gorges have been found in Libya, Syria, Israel, and other Mediterranean lands.” (5)
Egyptian geologist Rushdi Said created a useful typology of “the Nile” to explain the unique sediments found beneath the modern Nile. The five phases of “the Nile” are the “Eonile”, the “Paleonile”, the “Prenile”, the “Neonile” and the Modern Nile. (9)
The Eonile flowed 6 to 5.4 million years ago (Miocene). During this time the Mediterranean Sea was drying out, rainfall was enhanced by Mediterranean evaporation, and vast sediments were carried down the deepening gorge from then tall Red Sea Mountains lining the western edge of the Red Sea. The Eonile river valley was then back flooded with seawater from the reflooded Mediterranean. Marine sediments, including shark’s teeth as far south as Aswan, filled the vast valley one-half full. This period lasted from 5.4 to 3.3 million years ago (Pliocene).
The Paleonile flowed between 3.3 and 1.8 million years ago (Pliocene). This phase of the River Nile deposited sediments into the half-full Nile Canyon derived from Eastern and Western deserts. Then severe aridity struck the region and the Paleonile stopped flowing for a million years (1.8-.8 million years ago)!
The Prenile flowed between 800,000 and 400,000 years ago (Pleistocene). This phase of the Nile was vigorous, bringing into the Nile Canyon deposits from Ethiopian highland sources as well as sand and gravel.
The Neonile flowed intermittently between 400,000 and 12,500 years ago (Pleistocene).
The Modern Nile began flowing 12,500 years ago (Holocene). We know that its sources are the Ethiopian highlands and Central African lakes.
A vast deep canyon, which five million years ago looked like the Grand Canyon of Arizona, lies buried under Cairo, and extends southward for 600 miles to Aswan, Egypt, where its further path is lost.