Erosion by catastrophic floods on Mars and Earth

Victor R. Baker, Daniel J. Milton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations

Abstract

The large Martian channels, especially Kasei, Ares, Tiu, Simud, and Mangala Valles, show morphologic features strikingly similar to those of the Channeled Scabland of eastern Washington, produced by the catastrophic breakout floods of Pleistocene Lake Missoula. Features in the overall pattern include the great size, regional anastomosis, and low sinuosity of the channels. Erosional features are streamlined hills, longitudinal grooves, inner channel cataracts, scour upstream of flow obstacles, and perhaps marginal cataracts and butte and basin topography. Depositional features are bar complexes in expanding reaches and perhaps pendant bars and alcove bars. Scabland erosion takes place in exceedingly deep, swift floodwater acting on closely jointed bedrock as a hydrodynamic consequence of secondary flow phenomena, including various forms of macroturbulent votices and flow separations. If the analogy to the Channeled Scabland is correct, floods involving water discharges of millions of cubic meters per second and peak flow velocities of tens of meters per second, but perhaps lasting no more than a few days, have occurred on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalIcarus
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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