The Lake Missoula Floods and the Channeled Scabland

J. Harlen Bretz
1969 The Journal of geology  
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more » ... outstanding evidence for (1) repeated catastrophic outbursts of Montana's glacially dammed Lake Missoula, (2) consequent overwhelming in many places of the preglacial divide along the northern margin of the Columbia Plateau in Washington, (3) remaking of the plateau's preglacial drainage pattern into an anastomosing complex of floodwater channels (Channeled Scabland) locally eroded hundreds of feet into underlying basalt, (4) convergence of these flood-born rivers into the Columbia Valley at least as far as Portland, Oregon, and (5) deposition of a huge delta at Portland. Evidence that the major scabland rivers and the flooded Columbia were hundreds of feet deep exists in (1) gravel and boulder bars more than 100 feet high in mid-channels, (2) subfluvial cataract cliffs, alcoves, and plunge pools hundreds of feet in vertical dimension, (3) back-flooded silts high on slopes of preglacial valleys tributary to the scabland complex, and (4) the delta at Portland. Climatic oscillations of the Cordilleran ice sheet produced a succession of Lake Missoulas. Following studies by the writer, later investigators have correlated the Montana glacial record with recurrent scabland floods by soil profiles and a glacial and loessial stratigraphy, and have approximately dated some events by volcanic ash layers, peat deposits, and an archaeological site. Several unsolved problems are outlined in this paper.
doi:10.1086/627452 fatcat:uedhr46f3ngrhdm6o63bow4wtu