The Geology of Megafloods: Earth, Mars and Beyond
Dr. Vic Baker, University of Arizona
Regents Professor, Dept. of Hydrology and Water Resources; Joint Professor, Geosciences and Planetary Sciences
For more than 40 years University of Arizona Regents’ Professor Victor R. Baker has been studying the most spectacular and immense flood phenomena that are currently known to occur anywhere in the solar system. The immense megafloods of the last Ice Age created bizarre landscapes like the Channeled Scabland and altered the circulation of the oceans thereby changing Earth’s climate. More surprising was the discovery that much larger megafloods occurred billions of years ago on the planet Mars. The Martian megafloods formed temporary bodies of water on that planet, even generating a kind of ocean that facilitated environmental conditions on Mars that may have been like those of an ice age on Earth. These discoveries are showing that Mars, like Earth, had a long-term cycle of water circulation that produced a habitable planet, and these are exactly the kinds of processes to seek out in the newly initiated search for the other habitable planets of the universe.
Dr. Baker's research interests are concerned with paleohydrology and related aspects of geomorphology, with a particular focus on flood processes. Vic also works in the area of planetary geomorphology, and on issues that involve Earth science in relation to public policy, the environment, and philosophy of science. He has received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Geological Society's Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division (2010), and the David Linton Award of the British Society for Geomorphology.