A Caltech Library Service

Formation of Box Canyon, Idaho, by megaflood: implications for seepage erosion on Earth and Mars

Lamb, Michael P. and Dietrich, William E. and Aciego, Sarah M. and DePaolo, Donald J. and Manga, Michael (2008) Formation of Box Canyon, Idaho, by megaflood: implications for seepage erosion on Earth and Mars. Science, 320 (5879). pp. 1067-1070. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.1156630.

PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Amphitheater- headed canyons have been used as diagnostic indicators of erosion by groundwater seepage, which has important implications for landscape evolution on Earth and astrobiology on Mars. Of perhaps any canyon studied, Box Canyon, Idaho, most strongly meets the proposed morphologic criteria for groundwater sapping because it is incised into a basaltic plain with no drainage network upstream, and approximately 10 cubic meters per second of seepage emanates from its vertical headwall. However, sediment transport constraints, ^4He and ^14C dates, plunge pools, and scoured rock indicate that a megaflood (greater than 220 cubic meters per second) carved the canyon about 45,000 years ago. These results add to a growing recognition of Quaternary catastrophic flooding in the American northwest, and may imply that similar features on Mars also formed by floods rather than seepage erosion.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Additional Information:© 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received for publication 19 February 2008. Accepted for publication 21 April 2008.
Subject Keywords:Snake-River Plain; Big-Lost River; Martian Valleys; age; plateau; Hawaii; HE-3
Issue or Number:5879
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:LAMsci08
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13493
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Apr 2009 22:06
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:38

Repository Staff Only: item control page