Episode 070 Immense Ice Dam Extrapolation / Floods Controversies

“Back to Bretz” to consider the likelihood that the floods were augmented by sudden rushes of meltwater from the Ice Sheet that loomed directly to the north of the entire suite of megaflood features, RC shows how this makes perfect and obvious sense.

Behave Radically Different from small dammed lake?

With his diagrams and quotes from published geologists, RC stresses the impossibility of ice withholding a lake 2100' deep.

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Questions continue to be raised about the “Ice Dam” that withheld “Lake Missoula” and their role in the catastrophic Ice Age Megafloods that ravaged the Pacific Northwest around 13,000 years ago. Going “Back to Bretz” to consider again the likelihood that the floods were augmented greatly by sudden rushes of meltwater from the Cordilleran Ice Sheet that loomed directly to the north of the entire suite of megaflood features, Randall shows again and again how this makes perfect and obvious sense, although it is totally ignored by the standard model that describes the flood scenario. With his diagrams and multiple quotes from published geologists, RC stresses the impossibility of ice withholding a lake over 2000 feet deep.


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0:00      Ice Sheet Margin WA

14:44    Back to Bretz idea

28:44    18 cubic-miles/hour!

38:20    Many Separate Floods?

49:59    CBD updates

55:00    Ice Dam Viability

1:13:52  Clark Fork Dam?

1:32:18  Ice/berg Jamming

1:38:02  Missoula a lake?

1:43:00  Announcements


Early days of Harlen Bretz starting to figure out what happened to the Scablands – 1925 paper

Where is margin of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet? At head of Cheney-Palouse Scabland tract?

Termination of Purcell Trench Lobe? All the way thru Spokane Valley?

Columbia a river under the ice? Or initiates at margin of ice at head of Telford Tract

Bretz: How could you have that much water without major retreat of the ice sheet?

Must have been other sources, thus “Back to Bretz” paper (Shaw, Lesemann) in 1999

BREAK at 25:45


Bretz: “…special causes seem clearly indicated”

1910: Pardee first paper, Bretz sees USGS topo of Potholes Cataract, Halley’s Comet, Twain dies

Victor Baker calculates flow thru Rathdrum Prairie 700-800 million cfs!

Pardee calculations thru Eddy Narrows, which was consistent trench to measure flow

Cabinet Gorge Dam site near termination of ice – potential dam location; subglacial flow gorge?

Cfs flow-rates equate to 18 cubic miles per hour! Half that measured thru Eddy Narrows

What was discrepancy? Had to be augmented with equivalent flows down Purcell Trench

Various dating methods spread events over 3000 years, so they continue to evoke multiple floods

Richard Waitt in 1985, credit to as much as anyone for keeping discussion of floods alive, quote about no evidence to believe that the outburst flood should be radically different from small events

Wallula Gap and Walla Walla Valley rhythmites in Burlingame Gulch; multiple floods or ice jamming

If flow-rates are the same, why would water pond in Pasco Basin to 1000’ depth?

Have to consider multiple sources of inflow into the basin (where Lake Lewis formed)

Inconsistent with a single outflow from Clark Fork Valley

Hd BREAK at 49:59


CBD reports until 55:00

Revisit Richard Waitt quote re: glacial lake outlet thru ice dam, behaving like small dammed lakes

G K Clark from 1984 re: 3 orders of magnitude -- Can we extrapolate upwards without impunity? 

Eugene Kiver in 1989 field trip guide re: Costa ref 1988 complexity, and “immense extrapolation”

Russ talks about materials failure as you scale up orders of magnitude – loads are crushing

C. Warren Hunt in 1977 paper supports/confirms Bretz findings, including allochthonous granite

He emphatically asserts the impossibility of an ice dam impounding water to 1200, or 2100’ depth

Bedrock grouting used to fill every crack/hole/fracture in the surrounding substrate to seal tight

…virtually frivolous to suggest that chance emplacement of glacial ice might have dammed [ClkFk]

The problem is really at the ice/bedrock interface; if cold enough to lock on – not gonna have water

BREAK at 1:13:51

RC ppt slides of Clark Fork Valley with ice dam issues: location, width, depth

Configuration of Lake Pend Oreille prior to filling with ice, or erosion from outburst floods

1100’ depth of southeastern trough of Pend Oreille; solid and frozen to the bottom? With Lake?

What’s the process that will re-advance and reseal the valley once previous ice dam is washed out 

How can you have all this meltwater and/or rain, but still have the glacier advancing?

Surging glacier has liquid at the bottom, which limits ability to create an adequate seal

Ice would have to be a half-mile thick! Water at both ends – and no connection between?

Modern glacial-dammed lakes fail at 100-200’ water depth; 950psi is 140k or 70 tons/ft-squared

Need to go to the plateau country in central British Columbia! Rename as the “Cordilleran Floods”

BREAK at 1:32:18


Rhythmites and Wallula Gap – gathering waters rising and falling of lake level in Pasco Basin

David Alt in 2001 on curious lack of evidence that would identify the body of water as a “lake”

Missoula Basin shorelines not reminiscent of those at a lake; don’t find scales, varves, water life

Will get into major deconstruction of the “Ice Dam” next episode…

END at 1:49:49



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All Comments: (5)
  • looking at the Withrow moraine it actually looks like a gigantic circle. Is this yet another possible meteor strike that was ON top of the ice but was strong enough to leave an impression on the land? if so how did that change the features or incite the glacial melt that became flooding.
  • Great video. Glad that Youtube has some competition.
  • Back in the 50s we fished in the potholes (O'Sullivan Dam) for crappie and perch. We'd drive up from our farm in the Yakima Valley, cross the Columbia on the Vernita ferry before reaching our destination. At the time I wasn't aware of the flood. In addition, a blackflow up the Yakima Valley is recorded in Indian tradition. Some tribal members rushed to the top of Snipe's Mt (Cherry Hill) to escape the ascending waters. Whether it was this or another black flow, I don't know but it was at the time of the Inland Lakes.
  • Excellent show!
  • I just uploaded a short video for Unboxing my new Kosmographia hat! Go check it out on my channel!
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