Multimedia Collection

Mystery of the Megaflood

56 min
GB1399 .M97 2005 DVD

In the so-called "Scablands," covering 16,000 square miles of Washington State, one of earth's weirdest landscapes poses a giant scientific riddle. What could have scoured out huge potholes, torn out enormous rips and scars, scattered massive boulders as if dropped by giants, and carved out a "waterfall" five times wider than Niagara, but without any water?

A maverick geologist became convinced he had the answer: the biggest flood unleashed anywhere on earth in the last two million years. For decades, he patiently assembled clues that 1,000 feet-deep floodwaters had once covered the Northwest. But mainstream scientists scorned his theory while he searched for answers to what, exactly, could have triggered such a catastrophe.

Finally, an ingenious solution silenced the skeptics: traces of an enormous ice dam half a mile high, which had blocked a valley in present-day Montana and created an enormous lake behind it. With the help of stunningly realistic animation, NOVA takes viewers back to the Ice Age to reveal what happened when the dam broke, unleashing a titanic flood that swept herds of woolly mammoth and everything else into oblivion.

Distributed by WGBH Boston Video.

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