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The Great Missoula Floods

During the last ice age, huge floods flowed across the northwest

During the last ice age, part of the ice sheet covering what is now western Canada advanced far enough into Idaho to block a major waterway, now called the Clark Fork River. The ice dam backed up the river, creating a gigantic lake in (what is now) Montana. Every so often, the weight of all that water would burst through the dam, sending a wall of water flowing across the areas of Idaho, Washington, and even down into Oregon.

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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

The Great Missoula Floods

Adapted from a script by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote.

[Peaceful sound of pool]

Migrating waterfowl rest in a pool at the base of a dried-up waterfall that was once five times wider than Niagara Falls. [Calls of Northern Pintails and Gadwalls]

We’re in a landscape like no other in the world. Here in the Grand Coulee region of eastern Washington State, you’ll find 100-ton boulders scattered across the land, gorges a thousand feet deep, and enormous potholes.

Geologists have debated the origins of these formations for decades, but modern satellite technology has finally given us some answers.

During the last ice age, part of the ice sheet covering western Canada advanced far enough into Idaho to block a major waterway, now called the Clark Fork River. The ice dam backed up the river, creating a gigantic lake in Montana. Every so often, the weight of all that water would burst through the dam, sending a wall of water flowing across Idaho, Washington, and even down into Oregon. At some of the bottlenecks in the Columbia River Gorge, floodwaters piled up 1,000 feet high. Some rivers even flowed uphill.

But now on this quiet, sunny October day, it’s just us and the pintails and Gadwalls, bathing and preening in a pool created by some of the greatest floods the world has ever known.

[Calls of Northern Pintails and Gadwalls]

For BirdNote, I’m Ashley Ahearn.

Every Friday, BirdNote email subscribers enjoy the most colorful message they’ll get all week, with beautiful photos, links to upcoming episodes, and info on our special features. Sign up this week at birdnote.org.

###
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Ashley Ahearn
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Northern Pintail 43082 recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.  
Calls of Gadwall from Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CD, Kevin Colver ed.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote   October 2014 / 2019

ID#   scablands-plungepool-01-2012-10-18    scablands-plungepool-01b

http://geology.isu.edu/Digital_Geology_Idaho/Module13/mod13.htm

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