The Spokane Flood Controversy and the Martian Outflow Channels

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  22 Dec 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4374, pp. 1249-1256
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4374.1249


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 Scabland, 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. The discovery of probable catastrophic flood channels on Mars has given new relevance to Bretz's insights.