Palouse Falls and the Palouse River Canyon – Ice Age Floods Features


Hello young people. The Palouse River Canyon, just south of Washtucna,
Washington. Welcome to Palouse Falls State Park. The crown jewel, the Palouse Falls itself. One hundred and eighty foot cliff with the
Palouse River cascading over basalt bedrock. It’s a beautiful place especially in spring. But even in winter during a cold snap. You
get much of this water locked in ice.Equally impressive. But we’re here for more than the waterfall.
We’re here to talk about the river canyon itself. One of the most interesting
canyons you’ll find anywhere. The upper stretch of the canyon above the
falls is perfectly straight, arrow-straight, a four mile stretch. Here by the falls, the canyon zig-zags back
and forth. And in the lower stretch there’s a more classic
look to a coulee system with magestic buttes popping up from the canyon floor. And caves have been found with evidence of
human history going back 10,000 years. People have been enjoying this place for a
long, long time. Geologically this canyon is not much older
than 10,000 years. During the Ice Age this canyon was not here.
The waterfall was not here, the river wasn’t even here. To tell the story of how this canyon formed,
let’s go upstream. The peaceful Palouse River, a few miles north
of Palouse Falls. That’s the road to Pullman in the distance there. Before the Ice Age floods, the Palouse River
used to flow parallel to the Snake River, and a divide, a ridge separated the two “V”
shaped river valleys. The ridge was composed of fractured basalt
bedrock, mantled with windblown silt know as loess. Que the Ice Age Floods. Coming from Montana,
cruising through northern Idaho and barreling down into this tranquil scene. Way too much water for this valley to handle. And the Ice Age floods easily over-topped
the ridge and dumped directly into the Snake River. The erosive power of that floodwater did serious
damage to the ridge in multiple places. What’s now known as Palouse River Canyon,
H U Ranch Coulee and Devils Canyon. They’re parallel cuts, deeply into the basalt bedrock. It wasn’t just the loess taken away, it was
all the bedrock as well. Deep fractures that are parallel to each other
controlled where the floods did the most damage. Like taking a fire hose to the ridge and etching
out those deep fractures. The fractures formed originally 50 million
years ago in response to crustal compression from the south and a lateral torquing as well. The Palouse River took advantage of this.
In the old days the Palouse River Continued down it’s river channel north of the ridge. That’s now know as Washtucna Coulee and that
coulee’s dry. No river is in it anymore. Instead, the Palouse River took advantage
of the deepest cut, took a left turn a south turn into the ridge and now forms the Palouse
River Canyon. So we’ve got our answer right? The Ice Age
floods cut this canyon, not the Palouse River. When the floods got the floor of this canyon
lower than Washtucna Coulee, the Palouse River permanently came in here and left it’s old
valley high and dry. The Snake River effectively captured the Palouse
River. Something we call “Stream Capture”. Today
Palouse Falls is impressive. A drop of 180 feet. In fact there was a world record
for a kayak drop recently. But back during Ice Age floods time, fill
the entire canyon with water. Brown, raging dirty water coming through,
thundering through this canyon. With the original position of the Ice Age waterfall down at
the Snake River. And through flooding had the lip of that waterfall
migrate back five miles to it’s present position. The power of the Ice Age floods in the Palouse
River Canyon, south of Washtucna, Washington.

30 thoughts on “Palouse Falls and the Palouse River Canyon – Ice Age Floods Features

  1. Could you sometime discuss the evolution of the IDEA of the missoula floods. Also how far did the floods reach?

  2. You've talked about the ice age floods and the ice age basalts, but which came first of these two? Were they even in the same place? (I'm not from WA, so I don't know where all these things are exactly in relation to one another)

  3. Thanks for your response, I was describing hills in Oregon, lol, sorry, should have explained. I assume they were created the same way? Your channel is great . I lived a couple years Coastal Oregon around Port Orford.

  4. It's actually 1-2 miles north of Lyon's Ferry which is part of the town of Starbuck, not part of Washtucna or Kahlotus which are both nearly 20 miles away. Thought I'd set the record straight, as I live not far from Palouse Falls myself.

  5. Thanks for the clarification, siampals. Washtucna was more fun to say! Thanks for watching.

  6. So pleased that you like our channel! It's mostly the work of Tom Foster. I just show up to speak. So many different ways to make hills….tough to generalize.

  7. The video is a very useful tool.  Thanks for  the video, is very useful ´to show students that don't have the chance to see this processes alive,  in Tropical America the impact of the glaciations is hard to explain

  8. your the man man–are you going to be at the meeting at scc on october 9th?????

  9. But I thought the Earth was 6,000 years old? Lol Creationists are funny.

  10. Great video! Thanks for sharing. I'm a Ranger at Columbia Hills State Park down near The Dalles, OR. We have a lot of Ice Age flood erosion. It would be very awesome to consider doing a video of this end of the erosion in our gorge.

  11. Nick, this video, which I have watched several times now, and my recent visit to Palouse Falls State Park, has inspired me to do another virtual geocache called an Earthcache at the state park. The work you and Tom and the rest of the Huge Floods folks have done to educate us non-geologist about the geological make up of Washington State is amazing. Thank you for your efforts. If you would be so kind to allow me to use a couple of the diagrams/maps noted in the video to teach geocachers about the geological make up of Palouse Falls, I would be most grateful.

  12. Very educational. Re: Time and open-mindedness; are scientists open-minded enough, amd creationists believing in divine knowledge and power enough to consider the earth may have been created using pre-existing space matter? Matter that had existed for 50 billion years, or maybe just 5 billion? Are they able to consider that the earth may not have been created out of "thin air", but from matter that had a previous use? A masterfully planned use, so that over billions of years, there would eventually be natural, integrated sources for sustaining life, such as air and water; and energy sources such as fossil fuels etc.? The term "a day" could mean "a period of time" which could have been a million, or a billion years. Then everyone would be partially right, but noone is likely absolutely 100% accurate with our limited perspective and knowledge. Beautiful regardless.

  13. Beautiful video. I learned a lot, as always. Had to watch three times and go into Google View 3D (totally recommend it!) to understand it.
    At 3:26 you showed a map which was inverted 180 degrees with respect to the other maps you had previously shown which threw me off. But I'm glad because it made me watch it a couple more times and really understand most of what you said.
    Thanks for these, I wish you made more!

  14. I've always loved mountains but thanks to Nick Zentner's programs I now look at them with more respect and awe.

  15. When I lived in Moses Lake WA we drove to look at the falls several times. Great to at last understand how it was formed. Beautiful spot in the PNW.

  16. Nick. What is your take on the comet strike theory regarding rapid meltdown of the ice age? My understanding is that some geologic evidence has surfaced that shows a boundary in the strata dating 11-13k y.o. that has similarities to the KT boundary. Nano diamonds, carbon spheroids, iridium. Do you think there is any validity to the comet strike theory? I know this is like a holy grail of questions. But what do you think about Atlantis and all the potentially sunken cities around the world?
    If I was one of ;your students I'd be all over you like a pack of wolves to get your take on ancient civilizations and ancient structures. You know the scale of the floods. YOu understand the volumes of water involved. I want to know what you think about ice age civilizations. I think there is a body of evidence out there suggesting a cataclysm occurred on this earth 13-11k years ago.

  17. andrew hall has presented a compelling theory regarding how these sort of features were formed.

  18. I was watching a video of a guy picking agates out of an unconsolidated, fairly sorted layer of what I thought looked like glacial material. Are the agates coming from that basalt? Is the layer in fact glacial in origin?

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