Pleistocene megaflood landscapes of the Channeled Scabland

Victor R. Baker, Bruce N. Bjornstad, David R. Gaylord, Gary A. Smith, Scott E. Meyer, Petteri Alho, Roy M. Breckenridge, Mark R. Sweeney, Marek Zreda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The Channeled Scabland of east-central Washington comprises a complex of anastomosing fluvial channels that were eroded by Pleistocene megaflooding into the basalt bedrock and overlying sediments of the Columbia Plateau and Columbia Basin regions of eastern Washington State, U.S.A. The cataclysmic flooding produced huge coulees (dry river courses), cataracts, streamlined loess hills, rock basins, butte-and-basin scabland, potholes, inner channels, broad gravel deposits, and immense gravel bars. Giant current ripples (fluvial dunes) developed in the coarse gravel bedload. In the 1920s, J Harlen Bretz established the cataclysmic flooding origin for the Channeled Scabland, and Joseph Thomas Pardee subsequently demonstrated that the megaflooding derived from the margins of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, notably from ice-dammed glacial Lake Missoula, which had formed in western Montana and northern Idaho. More recent research, to be discussed on this field trip, has revealed the complexity of megaflooding and the details of its history.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring the Geology of the Inland Northwest
EditorsReed S. Lewis, Keegan L. Schmidt
Number of pages73
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-8137-0041-0
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameGSA Field Guides
PublisherGeological Society of America

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