"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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Southern Girl Goes West

I’ve only recently had my first taste of the wild west, and I’m addicted.  As a southern girl from Raleigh, I initially couldn’t understand how my more western-bred comrades referred to the east coast as “claustrophobic.”  I missed the trees, and the longsungof wide open spaces just seemed to give me vertigo.  But this past week in the Scablands, I saw land diversity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and got to explore it all!  I felt like a small child constantly deposited onto giant playgrounds and told to GO!  And we did: there were LPSAers climbing over rocks and hills and cliffs, standing at the top of waterfalls, rolling down sand dunes, tapemeasuring those basalt columns.  We’ve been back on the east coast for a couple days, but I’m already ready to return to the Scablands.   Becoming intimate with the land itself in a hands-on way has provided me with a fresh perspective on a new field of science—geology—as well as a further appreciation for the way the human body interacts and responds and adjusts itself to different types of landforms and their provided space.  Now, we just have to take a field trip to Mars and see what .4g does to my vertigo!


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