The University of Massachusetts Amherst

In Pictures

Modeling Megafloods: How Catastrophic Outbursts Change Planetary Landscapes

The picture above shows an aerial view of channeled scablands in eastern Washington State, an area that, like some on Mars, has very deep canyons cut into fractured basalt bedrock. Geomorphologists who study Earth’s surface features and the processes that formed them have long been interested in how floods, in particular catastrophic outbursts that occur when a glacial lake ice dam bursts, for example, can change a planet’s surface, not only on Earth but on Mars. Isaac Larsen (UMass Amherst Geomorphology Group) and Michael Lamb (Cal-Tech) have proposed and tested a new model of canyon-forming floods which suggests that deep canyons can be formed in bedrock by significantly less water than previously thought. Learn More.