First Advisor

Scott F. Burns

Date of Publication

Summer 1-5-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Paleopedology -- Pacific Northwest -- Quaternary, Calcretes -- Pacific Northwest, Floods -- Pacific Northwest, Glacial lakes -- Montana, Lake Missoula



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 174 p.)


Ancient Cataclysmic Floods were the Ice Age Floods that left erosional and depositional features and preceded the Missoula Floods (15-18,000 ka) in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (Allen et al., 2009). All previously studied ancient sites were visited (14) and new sites (11) were found; four Missoula Flood quarries were also visited; a total of 29 sites were studied in this thesis. The use of calcrete paleosols to provide relative age dates for flood deposits was analyzed in this thesis. Missoula Flood gravel pits were sampled in order to examine the degree of calcrete development in flood deposits of known ages. All of the Missoula Flood deposits tested contain Stage 1 calcrete soil development. Calcrete paleosols at sites with evidence for older floods were all analyzed. Eight sites have paleosols with Stage II development (3-12% CaCO3): Rulo Outcrop, Potholes Coulee, Leslie Road, Benge, E. Callaway Road, Collier Coulee, Palouse, and Connell. Five sites have paleosols with Stage II+ development (12-17% CaCO3): Brown Road, Leslie Road, Benge, Reese Coulee, and Connell. Fourteen sites have paleosols with Stage III development (17-35% CaCO3): The Dalles, Rulo Outcrop, Winans Road 1, Poplar Heights, Yakima Bluffs, Canal Outcrop, Othello Canal, Reese Coulee, Potholes Coulee, E. Callaway Road, Frenchmen Coulee, Macall, Ritzville, and East Connell. One site has a paleosol with Stage III+ development (35-50% CaCO3): Othello Canal. Ancient Cataclysmic flooding initiated in the Early Pleistocene, at least 1.5 Ma. Sixteen field sites show evidence for Early Pleistocene flooding, preserved in all six provinces: Othello Channels, Columbia River Gorge, Cheney-Palouse Scabland, Quincy Basin, Pasco Basin, and the Walla Walla Valley. There are 26 field sites with evidence for Middle Pleistocene flooding, present in all regions except Othello Channels. Eleven of those 26 sites also show evidence for Early Pleistocene floods. Evidence for Early and Middle Pleistocene floods is present over a wide distribution of elevations from 117 to 524 meters.


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