Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Missoula Flood Routes in the Snow

Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area looking south with The Gorge further to the south and the Columbia River to the west (right). The diagonal line across the upper middle is Interstate-90.  

I think I picked a good year not be traveling through London or New York at Christmas time. When I do fly I try to sit by the window. I suspect many geologists have sore necks from having their head turned to look out the window. I always enjoy trying to figure out where I am and what I am seeing.

I took the above picture on a recent flight from Seattle to Kansas City. The rain shadow effect had created a cloud free area over eastern Washington and I had this great view of the Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area with its deep Missoula Flood channels, dry water falls and flood gouged lakes above the Columbia River on the right side of the picture. This one of several flood routes that altered the eastern Washington landscape during the last ice age.

A smaller nick point on the right side to the south of the main channels is the site of The Gorge. The erosion by the spilling waters carved an amphitheater with great acoustics and great views. The site is used for large concerts in the summer. I'm fairly sure that the Dave Mathews Band has not done a Christmas concert here yet, but have paid several visits in the summer.  

A little past the Gorge and Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area I got a view of yet another Missoula Flood Channel, The Winchester Wasteway and the North Columbia Basin Wildlife Area and the South Columbia Basin Wildlife Area. Water from the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project is routed through this natural drainage route carved by the Missoula Floods. The lakes and fresh water have developed into outstanding bird and fishing areas. 

Winchester Wasteway looking south. The sharp straight line is Interstate-90

With the snow the channels were easy to see and trace. Much easier than figuring them out on the ground like Bretz did. A little further east before the clouds obscured my view I got a view of Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir.

View looking south of mostly frozen Moses Lake crossed by Interstate-90 with Potholes Reservoir further south and not yet frozen 

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