Pleistocene glaciers, lakes, and floods in north-central Washington State

By:
Edited by: Ralph A. Haugerud and Harvey M. Kelsey

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Abstract

The Methow, Chelan, Wenatchee, and other terrane blocks accreted in late Mesozoic to Eocene times. Methow valley is excavated in an exotic terrane of folded Mesozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks faulted between crystalline blocks. Repeated floods of Columbia River Basalt about 16 Ma drowned a backarc basin to the southeast. Cirques, aretes, and U-shaped hanging troughs brand the Methow, Skagit, and Chelan headwaters. The Late Wisconsin Cordilleran icesheet beveled the alpine topography and deposited drift. Cordilleran ice flowed into the heads of Methow tributaries and overflowed from Skagit tributaries to greatly augment Chelan trough's glacier. Joined Okanogan and Methow ice flowed down Columbia valley and up lower Chelan trough. This tongue met the icesheet tongue flowing southeast down Chelan valley. Successively lower ice-marginal channels and kame terraces show that the icesheet withered away largely by downwasting. Immense late Wisconsin floods from glacial Lake Missoula occasionally swept the Chelan-Vantage reach of Columbia valley by different routes. The earliest debacles, nearly 19,000 cal yr BP (by radiocarbon methods), raged 335 m deep down the Columbia and built high Pangborn bar at Wenatchee. As Cordilleran ice blocked the northwest of Columbia valley, several giant floods descended Moses Coulee and backflooded up the Columbia. As advancing ice then blocked Moses Coulee, Grand Coulee to Quincy basin became the westmost floodway. From Quincy basin many Missoula floods backflowed 50 km upvalley past Wenatchee 18,000 to 15,500 years ago. Receding ice dammed glacial Lake Columbia centuries more--till it burst about 15,000 years ago. After Glacier Peak ashfall about 13,600 years ago, smaller great flood(s) swept down the Columbia from glacial Lake Kootenay in British Columbia. A cache of huge fluted Clovis points had been laid atop Pangborn bar (East Wenatchee) after the Glacier Peak ashfall. Clovis people came two and a half millennia after the last small Missoula flood, two millennia after the glacial Lake Columbia flood. This timing by radiocarbon methods is under review by newer exposure dating--10Be, 26Al, and 36Cl methods.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Pleistocene glaciers, lakes, and floods in north-central Washington State
ISBN 978-0-8137-0049-6
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 31 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title From the Puget Lowland to east of the Cascade Range—Geologic excursions in the Pacific Northwest: Geological Society of America Field Guide 49
First page 175
Last page 205