This image was taken north of Sentinel Gap, looking south. The Columbia River is barely visible in the center of the photo. During the Ice Age Missoula Floods, Crab Creek thundered through here joining the Columbia River. This was the western path for the waters rushing through Drumheller Channels as it was diverted by the Saddle Mountains. The small rocks in the foreground are likely to have been carried by the rush of water as it carved out the scablands through the Drumheller Channels.
This image was taken looking north through Sentinel Gap. This gap cuts through the Saddle Mountains which separate the Pasco and Othello basins in Eastern Washington. The Columbia River runs through this gap on its way to the Oregon/Washington border. At the time of the Missoula Floods, the water level going through the gap reached the top of the left ridge, flowing into Lake Lewis which covered the Pasco basin.
The erratics in the foreground most likely are from the gap, carved away by the raging wall of water that flowed through it.
The Central Washington Basin is covered with layers of basalt, totaling as much as 2 miles thick, created by huge lava flows 8-15 million years ago. The nearest source of granite rock is several hundred miles away. This photo was taken near the Hanford site north of Richland. The granite rock was about 1/4 mile from the road. My lens combination was 560mm. For reference, the actual height of the rock (above ground) is about 12 feet. It is a big granite rock. How did it get here???
The current theory is that it was brought here as part of the ice dam that broke loose during one of the Missoula floods around 15,000 years ago. As the ice melted, embedded rocks were released. The Pasco basin and its surround hills have many such erratics.
This image was taken from the top of Saddle Mountain looking south toward the Pasco Basin. (Yesterday’s post was from the same location looking north toward the Othello Basin.)
Can you believe that this was once a 800 foot deep lake? During the Missoula floods, water entered the Pasco Basin northeast from the Palouse, north from the Drumheller/Othello Channels and northwest from the Columbia River through Sentinel Gap. Wallula Gap blocked the water from flowing freely through the Columbia Gorge to the Pacific Ocean. The result was the temporary Ice Age Lake Lewis. Today, the Columbia River meanders through the basin. The Hanford Nuclear Research facility is located south and east of the river. Rattlesnake Ridge is visible in the background.
These pieces of basalt (approximately 18 inches in length) caught my as I was exploring road cuts in the Yakima River Canyon. They seemed to be accented by an artists brush. Different patterns and different colors abounded in adjacent rocks. Since the rocks were adjacent and seem to be part of the same basalt flow, why are they so different in surface color and pattern. I need to do a little research on what factors determine the color and patterns.
This image was taken from the top of Saddle Mountain (~1,300 ft elevation) looking north east over the Othello basin toward the Drumheller Channels. Imagine a wall of water 200 – 300 feet high racing over an 8-11 mile stretch over the Drumheller Channels at over 60 miles per hour. This was the amount of water that was released (multiple times) when the Lake Missoula glacier dam broke releasing the water over the Eastern Washington basin. Saddle Mountain broke the onslaught of water. Some flowed west through the Crab Creek Coulee to the Columbia River and Sentinal Gap. The remainder rushed around the eastern edge of the Mountain and into the Pasco Basin and Lake Lewis.
A couple of miles up the road from my last post, I saw these basalt columns protruding vertically upward. They were located on a different ridge. The forces driving the uplift were different than the ones from the first ridge. I ask why, what caused the difference? Did this ridge lift at a different time or were the forces just different from the ridge in the first post. My curiosity kills me. I think I need to do more research on how these “Yakima Folds” evolved.
This tilted basalt was the result of a plate fold being pushed up from a diagonal force. Throughout the Yakima River Canyon the basalt columns show displacement in various directions. This illustrates that forces were lateral pushing toward each other creating a “fold”.
The basalt shown here is in a “columnar” formation. Basalt formed like this cooled very slowly, creating a soother texture.
How did a river cut such a gorge through a basalt mountain. Maybe it didn’t. The Yakima River originates high in the Cascade Mountains. The upper end of the river was not part of the great Missoula floods that covered Eastern Washington. The Yakima meanders through several Basalt Ridges. The nature of a meandering steam is that it flows through a relatively flat plain. If the mountains were there first, the river would have flowed around them. So how did the Yakima get through the mountains. Maybe the river was there first, As the ridges slowly developed as part of the Yakima fold formations, the river could have gradually cut a channel through its original riverbed route.
I spent a day slowly driving through the Yakima River Canyon. I stopped and photographed several interesting rocks and formations. During the next week or so, I will post several of my images.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had placed my full attention toward shooting the terns as they were diving. I sat down along the path so I could brace my elbows on my knees as I followed the birds. After we finished, I looked down and saw this young gator sunning itself less than 10 feet from my legs. Holy XXXX, did I jump. Even though the area had warning signs about alligators, I had not even thought about it when I sat down. My eyes were on the birds in the sky, not at the water’s edge in front of me. That is the rest of the story.
How many times have I focused on capturing an image without paying attention to what was around me. This is truly a lesson learned! Be safe out there!!!