Locus Focus on 10/11/10

Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:15am - 11:05am
Short Description: 
Cataclysmic floods that shaped the Columbia Gorge at the end of the Ice Age.


Missoula Floods were one of the greatest sets of geological events in North America. Occurring as many as 40 times during the last ice age, the floods were caused by waters released from ancient Lake Missoula that scoured the Columbia River basin, carved out the Columbia River Gorge, and swept across at least 16,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest. On this episode of Locus Focus, Portland State University geology professor Scott Burns returns to discuss the effect of the floods on the landscape of the Willamette Valley. He'll also share the incredible story of how geologist J. Harlen Bretz discovered evidence of the floods nearly 100 years ago. Bretz's claim that these prehistoric floods caused cataclysmic geological changes challenged mainstream geologic thought at the time, and it wasn't until the 1950s that his ideas became accepted as scientific fact.

Scott Burns, PhD. is a professor of geology at Portland State University with research interests that include engineering geology, environmental geology, soils, landslides, geomorphology, and quaternary geology. When not teaching, he serves on numerous geological committees and has written numerous articles, chapter contributions, and books, including Cataclysms on the Columbia, co-authored with John Eliot Allen and Marjorie Burns.



Great teacher!

I was fortunate to be able to accompany my wife on a tour that Prof. Burns gave in the Columbia Gorge several years ago.  What a great experience!  We stopped at several places, where he explained the ancient geologic forces that shaped our everyday landscape. I've thought about the topics he presented that day every single time I go hiking in the Gorge.



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