2016-10-01 Jeff & Carol Tepper: Ice Age Floods field trip

About the Field Trip

A Field Trip to Examine the Geology of the Missoula Ice Age Floods

As the last Ice Age was coming to an end, vast quantities of meltwater accumulated in ice-dammed lakes located in what is now western Montana.  Repeated failures of the ice dams resulted in a series of catastrophic floods that swept across eastern Washington between ~15,000 – 13,000 years ago.  These so-called “Missoula floods” were far larger than anything witnessed in historic times and they profoundly changed the landscape of eastern Washington.  On this long two-day trip we will examine some of the features and deposits left behind by these floods, focusing in particular on those that can help us to appreciate their enormity.  The geologist credited with piecing together the story of the Missoula floods, J. Harlan Bretz, spent over 40 years studying the evidence the floods left behind, seeking to convince a skeptical geological community that features such as the Grand Coulee were the result of catastrophic events rather than gradual erosion over a long interval of time.  As we visit many of the same sites that Bretz studied, we will focus on that one fundamental question:  “How do we know we’re seeing the aftermath of cataclysmic events as opposed to merely a long history of gradual erosion?

Saturday, October 1 – Sunday, October 2, 2016.  The trip departs from Fort Worden in Port Townsend at 7 AM and we will return to Port Townsend on Sunday evening (~ 7 PM).

Trip Leaders:  Dr. Jeffrey Tepper (Geology Professor, University of Puget Sound) and Carol Serdar Tepper (Licensed Geologist).

Group Size and Transportation:  This trip is limited to 30 participants.  We will travel together in three 10-person vans. You can leave your personal vehicle at Fort Worden and it will not require a Discover Pass.

Trip Difficulty:  No formal geologic background is required but participants should have an appreciation of geology and be in good physical condition.  Most stops will require walking short distances (less than 0.25 mile) and, in some cases, on uneven ground.  The climb to the top of Steamboat Rock (2.5 miles roundtrip, 800 vertical feet, rocky trail) is moderately strenuous but is optional. Please, no pets or minors (under 21) for logistical and liability considerations.

Lodging: We have reserved a block of rooms (held until September 1 at a motel in Grand Coulee. All participants must stay at the motel with the group. There are a variety of room configurations.  You will receive room reservation information when we have registered you for the trip. You will then have 48 hours to make your room reservation and report the confirmation number to us. Please do not attempt to make room reservations before we have registered you for the trip. Dinner Saturday will be at a restaurant near the motel. Sunday box-lunch is provided.

Trip Cost: The cost of the trip will be $60 per person.  This covers the vans, gas, Sunday box lunch, water, and the trip leaders’ expenses.  Lodging and all other meals are at your expense.