What Goes Into Mapping The Grand Canyon?

By Mark Brodie
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 11:47am
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 3:33pm

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Grand Canyon
Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
Grand Canyon.

On Tuesday, we said happy centennial to Grand Canyon National Park. On Feb. 26, 1919, Congress designated the 277-mile long canyon as a national park. Since then, people from around the world have set out to explore this natural wonder.

But every person who stares out into that boundless gorge sees just a fraction of the whole canyon. Even the adventurers who trek into its depths or raft along its river won’t see all it has to offer.

"I couldn’t claim true expertise, but I’ve hiked rim to rim and I go as often and as frequently as I can," said Matt Toro, director of maps, imagery and geospatial services at ASU Library.

Toro has spent a lot of time in and around the Grand Canyon, and even more time looking at the canyon on maps. He said that’s where true expertise on the canyon comes to light — in those scaled-down replicas of the canyon’s winding form.

Toro is organizing a conference this week at ASU Library focused on mapping the Grand Canyon. It also celebrates the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition through the canyons of the Colorado River.

The Show spoke with him about his research.

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