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The Grand Canyon reveals the layers of limestone and sandstone that testify to vanished seas and deserts

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Woe and beauty on an ancient edge

Grand Canyon’s geology offers solace and an education in time

I took a step — a long step — a million years step. Then I stopped, turned and faced north. Perched on the jagged edge of my life, I looked down deep into the shadowed layers of lost worlds — terrible deaths, fractured continents, vanished seas, mass extinctions. Taking a breath, I took another step — a long step — another million years. Curiously, I felt better — my troubles for the moment shrunk to no more than a ledge of Tapeats Sandstone in the wall of the Grand Canyon opposite. A layer of fossilized beach sand laid down 570 million years ago, the Tapeats Sandstone lies atop a mystery of missing stone — dubbed the “Great Unconformity.”

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