The channeled scabland: A retrospective

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94 Scopus citations


The Channeled Scabland of east-central Washington in the United States is a complex of anastomosing rock-cut fluvial channels, cataracts, loess islands, rock basins, broad gravel deposits, and immense gravel bars. In the 1920s, J Harlen Bretz demonstrated that the Channeled Scabland formed by cataclysmic erosion and deposition from Pleistocene megaflooding derived from the margins of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, particularly glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana and northern Idaho. Studies of this region and the high-energy flood processes that generated it are stimulating (a) discoveries of similar megaflood-related landscapes around the world and on Mars, (b) enhanced understanding of the processes involved in the fluvial erosion of bedrock, and (c) the use of paleoflood indicators for understanding the magnitudes and frequency of flooding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-411
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Catastrophism
  • Floods
  • Fluvial erosion
  • Megaflooding
  • Uniformitarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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