Flood Creates a U.S. Canyon in Three Days

PASADENA, Calif., June 22 (UPI) — A U.S. geologist and geographer say they are studying the recent flood-caused creation of a Texas canyon to gain insight into ancient flooding events on Mars.

The researchers — Assistant Professor of geology Michael Lamb of the California Institute of Technology and Associate Professor of geography Mark Fonstad of Texas State University — said a week of heavy rainfall in 2002 formed a 1.3-mile-long, 22-foot-deep canyon in just three days.

The event occurred when heavy rains in Central Texas caused a reservoir to overflow its spillway, sending water down a valley for six weeks, stripping the area of trees and soil, destroying a bridge; and moving three-foot-wide boulders from the ground.

The event is important, Lamb and Fonstad said, because there are very few modern examples of such megafloods. They said the traditional view of deep river canyons is that they are carved slowly, but that is not always the case.

“We know that some big canyons have been cut by large catastrophic flood events during Earth’s history,” Lamb said, noting the same type of events might have created some of the spectacular canyons on Mars.

The research appears in the early, before-print edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

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