Scablands and a catastrophic flood


“It was the biggest flood in the world for which there is geological evidence,” writes Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It, referring to the catastrophic deluge that tore through the Pacific Northwest every time Glacial Lake Missoula’s ice dam gave way. “t was so vast a geological event that the mind of man could only conceive of it but could not prove it until photographs could be taken from Earth satellites.” Proof now in hand, geologists today point to numerous features in the landscape that reveal the extreme scale and violence involved in these truly colossal floods.

Mystery of the Megaflood

J. Harlen Bretz, who theorized that the Washington Scablands was formed by a catastrophic flood, was of course first met with intense opposition.

Bretz conducted meticulous research and published many papers during the 1920s describing the Channeled Scablands. His theories of how they were formed required short but immense water flows, for which Bretz had no explanation (the source of the water was never the focus of his research). Bretz’s theories met with vehement opposition from geologists of the day, who tried to explain the features with uniformitarianism theories.

However, it is now commonly accepted among scientists that the Scablands was formed by a catastrophic flood (which I think this by itself is very interesting). And not only that, it was formed relatively recently too – around 15000 years ago (which also is very interesting).

Questions which I’d like to discuss:

Where did the water come from?
If a catastrophic flood created the Scablands in a short period of time, couldn’t other geological features elsewhere be also created in a short amount of time?