A review of open-channel megaflood depositional landforms on earth and mars

Paul A. Carling, Devon M. Burr, Timothy F. Johnsen, Tracy A. Brennand

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

58 Scopus citations


Summary. Catastrophic out-bursts of water from lakes impounded by glacial ice or debris such as moraines have caused large freshwater floods on Earth in recent times at least back to the Quaternary. Resultant large-scale depositional sedimentary landforms are found along the courses of these floodwaters. On Mars, similar floods have resulted from catastrophic efflux of water from within the Martian crust. This latter conclusion is based on large-scale and mesoscale landforms that appear similar to those identified in flood tracts on Earth. Both on Earth and on Mars, these landforms include suites of giant bars – ‘streamlined forms’ – of varying morphology that occur primarily as longitudinal features within the floodways as well as in flooded areas that were sheltered from the main flow. Flow-transverse bedforms, notably giant fluvial dunes and antidunes also lie within the floodways. The flood hydraulics that created these forms may be deduced from their location and morphology. Some other fluvial landforms that have been associated with megafloods on Earth have yet to be identified on Mars. Introduction. Exceptionally large freshwater floods on Earth are associated with the catastrophic draining of glacial lakes Missoula and Agassiz amongst others in North America (Teller, 2004). Other glacially related large floods occurred in the mountains of Eurasia, which have only recently received attention (Grosswald, 1999; Montgomery et al., 2004), and geomorphological evidence of other large floods may be discovered in formerly glaciated terrain on other continents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMegaflooding on Earth and Mars
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511635632
ISBN (Print)9780521868525
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of open-channel megaflood depositional landforms on earth and mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this