"In a series of papers published between 1923 and 1932, J Harlen Bretz described an enormous plexus of proglacial stream channels eroded into the loess and basalt of the Columbia Plateau, eastern Washington. He argued that this region, which he called the Channeled Scablands, was the product of a cataclysmic flood, which he called the Spokane flood. Considering the Nature and vehemence of the opposition to his hypothesis, which was considered outrageous, its eventual scientific verification constitutes one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of modern science."
Victor R. Baker, 1978

In Baker's 1978 paper, he highlights the relationship between the flood morphology of the channeled scablands and the flood channels on Mars. In both cases, cataclysmic floods scoured the landscape, producing deeply incised river valleys, streamlined hills, and other indicative erosional features.
The recent discovery of columnar jointing in Martes Valles, Mars (Milazzo et al., 2009) has strengthened the relationship between the Channeled Scablands, where jointing is readily observable in the Columbia basalts, and our terrestrial neighbor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program (RSESTeP)

During our upcoming trip to Washington, LPSA participants will be working with RSESTeP in order to learn a little about remote sensing. As explained by NASA's website, "RSESTeP is a three-tiered (Satellite, R/C Plane and Ground-truthing) Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program that trains 4th – 12th grade classroom science teachers how to use cutting edge NASA resources and technologies to implement Earth Science Missions with students and communities." While in the past the program has worked with science teachers across the country, this summer it will be partnering with LPSA to investigate basalt columns in the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington state.

We will first record various ground measurements of the columnar basalt at different locations in order to verify previously collected data. Next, in partnership with pilots from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, students will use instruments aboard the R/C planes to collect aerial photographs of the same sites. All of this information will be combined to gain a greater understanding of what geologic processes take place during the formation of basalt columns.

Ultimately, we wish to relate the structure and history of the Scabland basalts to similar formations that have been recently identified on Mars by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). The discovery of columnar basalts on Mars is a very exciting because they suggest the presence of liquid water.

No comments:

Post a Comment