October 6, 2011: Megafloods

Megafloods (terrestrial water flows with discharges exceeding one million cubic meters per second) are the largest known freshwater floods, with flows comparable in scale to (though of shorter duration than) ocean currents. Although there are no modern examples of megafloods, such flows occurred during major periods of Earth’s glaciation and during past epochs on Mars. A prominent example is the paleoflooding caused by late Pleistocene outbursts from Glacial Lake Missoula, which formed when the Purcell Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet extended south from British Columbia to the basin of modern Pend Oreille Lake in northern Idaho.

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