Study of Idaho canyons suggests they were the result of massive flooding not erosion

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Posted December 18, 2013
Study of Idaho canyons suggests they were the result of massive flooding not erosion
Credit: Jim Cash/Idaho Geological Survey
A team of researchers is proposing that Idaho’s Malad Gorge and two of its three unique heads were created by a massive flood 46,000 years ago. In their paper published in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, the team members from California Institute of Technology describe a field study they undertook of the area and how their findings suggest the gorge was created by a flood, not erosion as has been previously thought.

Gorges and especially canyons inspire awe and wonder in most who view them, followed by introspection and inevitably questions regarding how such a spectacle might have come about. Up till now, the most common answer has been simple erosion—water flowing over a long enough period of time can cut even the hardest of rock. More recently, however, new evidence has suggested that some gorges were actually created by groundwater movement. And now, in this new effort, the research team suggests that some of them might have come about due to massive floods.

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