List of rivers by age
This is a selected list of the oldest rivers on Earth for which there is knowledge about their existence in past times.
Determination of age
The age of a river is difficult to determine. Generally, the age is estimated based primarily upon the age of any mountains it dissects; the age of the sea or ocean to which it eventually outflows can be irrelevant; for example, several rivers of the east side of the Appalachian Mountains are older than the existence of the Atlantic Ocean, which did not exist 130 million years ago. If a river fully dissects a mountain range, then this generally indicates that the river existed at least at the time that the mountain range rose.
List of some of the world's oldest rivers
|River||Age (Ma)||Outflow||Most significant criterion for the age|
|Predates the Alice Springs Orogeny; several other smaller rivers in the Northern Territory are of a similar age|
|Meuse||320 to 340||North Sea||Paleozoic, dissects the Ardennes during the Hercynian The Hercynian Orogeny mountain upflift was contemporary with the Appalachian-forming Alleghenian orogeny, both 320 to 340 ma.|
|New||260 to 325||Kanawha River||Dissects the Appalachian Mountains, formed by the Alleghenian orogeny, 320-340 ma |
|Susquehanna||260 to 325||Chesapeake Bay||Dissects the Appalachian Mountains, formed by the Alleghenian orogeny, 320-340 ma |
|French Broad||260 to 325||Tennessee River||Dissects the Appalachian Mountains, formed by the Alleghenian orogeny, 320-340 ma. The New, Susquehanna, French Broad are the only significant rivers that fully dissect the Appalachian core; the Hudson River is of more recent geologic origin.|
|Rhine||240||North Sea||Triassic, possibly older if it dissected mountains uplifted during the Hercynian in addition to the Eocene with the Alps or the Miocene with the Upper Rhine Graben|
|Save||205||Indian Ocean||Formed during rifting when Gondwana broke up.|
|Amazon||200||Atlantic Ocean||Jurassic, but it seems to have flowed in the opposite direction as an extension of the Congo, i.e. long before the formation of Andes|
|Amur||125||Sea of Okhotsk||Known to be at least Cretaceous in age, but crosses mountains even older|
|Macleay||80||Tasman Sea||Predates uplift of Great Escarpment|
|Murrumbidgee||75||Murray River||Predates uplift of Australian Alps|
|Colorado||75||Gulf of California||Uplift during Laramide orogeny, see Geology of the Grand Canyon area|
|Nile||65 to 75||Mediterranean Sea||65 to 75 for the Sudd section; the rest of the river is only 1 or 2 million years old |
|Thames||58||North Sea||Late Palaeocene Period Thanetian Stage.|
|45||Arabian Sea||Source in the Himalayas and Karakoram Mountains|
|Tyne||30||North Sea||The Tyne, 30 MYA began to carve its valley, by removing softer chalk rocks and exposing harder rocks. Significantly predates the last Ice Age.|
|23 to 36.5||East China Sea||Post-dates the Three Gorges formation (36.5 ma) |
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- Haines PW, Hand M, Sandiford M (2001). "Palaeozoic synorogenic sedimentation in central and northern Australia: a review of distribution and timing with implications for the evolution of intracontinental orogens". Australian Journal of Earth Sciences. 48 (6): 911–928. doi:10.1046/j.1440-0952.2001.00909.x. Abstract
- Environmental History of the Rhine-Meuse Delta
- Mary S. Biswal, TERTIARY ORIGIN OF THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAINS
- Clearwaters, Spring 2009, Historical Look at the Susquehanna River Watershed
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, Atlanta, GA, Record of Decision: Overview of Site (p. 14)
- Landscape evolution in Zimbabwe from the Permian to present, with implications for kimberlite prospecting. Moore, Cotterill, Broderick, Plowes. 2006, South African Journal of Geology.
- Potter, Paul Edwin & Hamblin, W. Kenneth; “Big Rivers Worldwide”
- Flannery, Tim; The Future Eaters; An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and Peoples; p. 78 ISBN 0802139434
- "History of the major rivers of southern Britain during the Tertiary". Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group. 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- Clift, Peter D.; Shimizu, N.; Layne, G.D.; Blusztajn, J.S.; Gaedicke, C.; Schlüter, H.-U.; Clark, M.K.; Amjad, S. (August 2001). "Development of the Indus Fan and its significance for the erosional history of the Western Himalaya and Karakoram". GSA Bulletin. 113 (8): 1039–1051. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(2001)113<1039:DOTIFA>2.0.CO;2.
- Hongbo Zheng, Pre-Miocene birth of the Yangtze River
- Encyclopædia Britannica: Yangtze River