The main difference between canyon and valley is that canyons are deeper and have steeper sides than valleys.
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Canyons and valleys are two landforms created by running rivers and erosion. A valley is a depressed area of land between mountains or hills, while a canyon is a deep and narrow valley having steep sides.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Canyon – Definition, Features 2. What is a Valley – Definition, Features 3. Similarities Between Canyon and Valley – Outline of Common Features 4. Difference Between Canyon and Valley – Comparison of Key Differences
What is a Canyon?
A canyon is a deep, narrow valley having steep sides. The name canyon originates from the Spanish word cañon, meaning “tube” or “pipe.” Canyons can be formed due to processes of weathering and erosion, movement of rivers, and tectonic activity. They can be found in various sizes – from huge trenches to narrow slits. They have very steep sides and tend to be very deep. Gorge is another word we use to refer to canyons. But gorges tend to be smaller than canyons.
Erosion is a major cause of the formation of canyons. When a river’s flow of water erodes soil and rocks over thousands of years, this forms a canyon or valley. Some of the largest canyons in the world have been created in dry areas by swift streams fed by melting snow or rain from colder and wetter areas. Since there is little surface water or rain to wear them down, the walls remain rough and steep. The Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Tibet, and the Kings Canyon in Northern Territory Australia are some examples of canyons.
Canyons can also be found deep underwater. We call these submarine canyons. They are located along the borders of continents and in some ocean islands. The deepest submarine canyon is the Grand Bahama Canyon, which in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas.
What is a Valley
A valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it. It is a depressed area of land–scoured and washed out by forces of gravity, water, and ice. It usually takes the form of a U or V. Moreover, it has a “head” (where it starts from in the mountains or hills) “, sides” (rises up on either side) and a “floor” (where the valley is mostly flat).
Rivers and streams can form valleys with steep-walled sides and a narrow floor, which usually have a V shape. The steepness of the sides and the width of the valley floor are determined by the gradient of the river. Many civilizations in the world began from valleys due to their proximity to rivers and the fertile soil in the valleys.
Similarities Between Canyon and ValleyCanyons are a form of valleys.They are formed by running rivers and shifting glaciers.
Difference Between Canyon and Valley
A canyon is a deep, narrow valley having steep sides, while a valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it.
Depth and Steepness
Canyons are deeper and have steeper sides than valleys.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Tibet, the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, and the Kings Canyon in Northern Territory Australia while Kashmir valley in India, Great Appalachian Valley and Yosemite Valley in the US, and Jiuzhaigou Valley in China examples of valleys.
Canyons are a type of valley. The main difference between canyon and valley is that canyons are deeper and have steeper sides than valleys.
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1. “Canyon.” National Geographic Society, 9 Oct. 2012, Available here. 2. “Valleys.” Science, National Geographic, 10 Feb. 2021, Available here.Image Courtesy: