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Showing posts from April, 2012

WALLULA GAP: Bottleneck of the Ice Age Floods

When you first hear about how 15,000 years ago, glacial Lake Missoula broke free of its ice dam and raced across the Mid-Columbia Basin – some 500 cubic miles of water traveling at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour – you’re tempted to say bullshit. That’s what most scientists thought when J. Harlen Bretz first proposed his theory of a great “Spokane Flood” in the early 1920s. But 30 years later, after he and others collected more evidence, and after the advent of aerial photography made it possible to recognize giant “current ripples” in suspect landscapes, scientific opinion began its necessary shift. On a recent trip to the tri-cities, I spent time in the Horse Heaven Hills, south of Kennewick in order to see some of the evidence for ancient cataclysmic floods as laid out in Bruce Bjornstad’s guidebook, On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods. Evidently, the Horse Heaven Hills form the defining southern rim of the Mid Columbia ‘Basin’ and when the floods came, the only


Note: Larger versions of posted pictures can be accessed simply by clicking on the images “Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you now because I never stopped dawdling like an eight-year-old on a spring morning on his way to school. Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. Thank you.” Dr. Hoenikker's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (in its entirety) Cat’s Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut Old jealous corn skeletons stand in disciplined rows - sheathed in brittle armor – and make their last stand against the rising forces of spring. Water percolates into the earth The clouds … like swaddling cloths. Birds draw arrows in the sky…eventually Save for the grass-stained chin, I frequently see this expression at the daily 10 o’clock scheduling meeting. It was Mr. T who saw Bill Monroe’s bird watching article in the March 18 th Oregonian – an article that chronicles the current s