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The Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington As we enter Washington from the east we immediately run into the gentle rolling hills of the Palouse country If we continue to travel westward we suddenly enter a heavily scarred land of barren rock channels and canyons Rugged cliffs basalt rock basins concave cliffs and even giant ripple marks line the landscape We have just reached the edges of the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington The bleak but intensely unique landscape causes us to ponder the origin of the land formations What could have happened here The answer is the largest most violent floods that man has ever known Geologist J Harlen Bretz of the University of Chicago first named the Channeled Scablands in 1920 He was conducting a survey and a study of the land when he first thought up the great flood theory He was ridiculed and laughed at when he first proposed the idea but he stuck to his guns He finally received support and his theory still stands strong today During the Tertiary period - between 30 million and 10 million years ago- volcanic rock terrained eastern Washington This rock floor was 10000 feet thick in places and covered more then 100000 square miles The lave fields were almost completely surrounded by mountains and encircled by three rivers As the molten rock cooled it began to crack and form hexagonal patterns through out it These joints broke up the lava in vertical columns of basalt rock After eruptions as a whole stopped the lava field was tilted as a unit to the southwest Today the northeast rim is 2300 feet taller then the southwest creating a natural flood plan to the Columbia River Beginning a while after the lava cooled windblown silt or loess began to accumulate over the field eventually producing the rich farmland of the Palouse hills The silt reaches a maximum depth in the Pullman-Colfax area at 200
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