I've been working on a story in which the main setting is basically a canyon around a river (like the Grand Canyon, I guess), but it's specifically where the river meets the sea, and it's still in the canyon.

Does anyone know if this is geographically possible/present in the real world, and if so if there are any places you can give me where it is true so I can get google earth references?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do you mean an above ground canyon, or one under the water? For the first, see the answer below re fjords. For the second, undersea canyons do exist. The one in Monterey Bay (California) is perhaps the best known: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monterey_Canyon $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 21, 2017 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ This geographical feature makes sense if the land next to the sea is high above water level, ending in cliffs where the land meets the sea, and the river cutting through it. $\endgroup$
    – jered
    Sep 21, 2017 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ The only problem I see with this is that rivers, when meeting oceans, deposit large amounts of sediment (deltas), which would build up out in front of the canyon gap. Therefore, there probably wouldn't be a very stark contrast from canyon to ocean. $\endgroup$
    – roob
    Sep 21, 2017 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


The term you are looking for is fjord.

A fjord is defined by Wikipedia as:

A long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.

If a river flows into the fjord it should be the sort of geographic feature you are looking for.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ neither a fjord or a sound do not seem to be what is described in the question. I interpret it as a canyon that is caused by erosion from a river (not a from glacier like a fjord) and running into the ocean, not flooded by it (like a sound). $\endgroup$
    – roob
    Sep 21, 2017 at 21:24
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @rawbeans The end results are the same though - a canyon running into the sea. Either way the sea level rising and flooding the area or the land sinking are the only two ways this happens since the erosion of the canyon has to happen above sea level and then either the canyon drops or the sea rises to flood it. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Sep 22, 2017 at 11:31

A canyon is just a narrow and deep river valley, often produced when a plain was eroded by a passing river after it had been lifted. A fjord (as proposed by Sphennings) is a river valley flooded by the sea, either due to rising sea levels or to falling land levels. What the question proposes is just a canyon flooded by the sea.

It's debatable if Norwegian fjords qualify as canyons. Probably, if we could see them with water at a lower level we would call the narrowest and deepest of them canyons.

We would see a more spectacular example of a flooded canyon if the sea level rose (or the Colorado Plateau sank) by several hundred meters to flood the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Although unlikely in the foreseeable geological future, it would be a great fit for the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For a great example of how a rising sea level could being about the feature described in the question, see the Great Barrier Reef - this was previously the coastal plains of eastern Australia, but was submerged when the sea level rose from about 20,000 years ago. The current coastline is significantly inland from where is was before this change and so it would be theoretically possible for a river-worn canyon to end up part of a coastline due to similar events. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2017 at 4:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .