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Cataclysms on the Columbia tells two stories. One follows geological research that challenged the scientific paradigm of the early 20th century, and the other chronicles the results of that research: the discovery of powerful prehistoric floods that shaped the Pacific Northwest. The cataclysms at the end of the last Ice Age left a scab land of buttes, dry falls, and rocky gorges, but it took the detective work of geologist J. Harlan Bretz to prove it to the world. He did not live to see his theories vindicated, ...
Cataclysms on the Columbia tells two stories. One follows geological research that challenged the scientific paradigm of the early 20th century, and the other chronicles the results of that research: the discovery of powerful prehistoric floods that shaped the Pacific Northwest. The cataclysms at the end of the last Ice Age left a scab land of buttes, dry falls, and rocky gorges, but it took the detective work of geologist J. Harlan Bretz to prove it to the world. He did not live to see his theories vindicated, but his lifetime of research and unshakeable belief changed geology forever.
Acknowledgments to the First Edition Acknowledgments to the Second Edition Preface Part I: The World of Geology Chapter 1: The Living, Changing Earth Chapter 2: Detecting the Clues to the Past Part II: The Bretz Saga
3: Early Days
4: Too Many Clues?
5: Scars with a Difference: The Channeled Scablands and Gigantic Gravel Bars
6: The Unthinkable Heresy: Catastrophism vs. Uniformitarianism
7: Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle
8: The Great Controversy
9: The Revisionists: Allison, Hodge, and Flint
10: “Unusual Currents”: Pardee Breaks the Silence
11: Vindication Part III: The Rest of the Story
12: Major Researchers Since Bretz Part IV: The Landscape Before and After the Missoula floods
13: Setting the Stage for the Floods: Geology, Life, and Witnessing the Floods
14: During the Cataclysms and Immediately Afterward
15: After the Missoula Floods Part V: Following the Floods from Source to Sea
16: Glacial Lake Missoula and the Purcell Trench Ice-Dam: From Missoula, Montana, to Spokane, Washington
17: Rathdrum Prairie and Glacial Lake Columbia: Gateway to the Scablands: From Pend Oreille to Spokane
18: The Channeled Scablands: Grand Coulee and Moses Coulee
19: The Heart of the Channeled Scablands
20: Lake Lewis Basins
21: Wallula Gap to The Dalles: Lake Condon
22: The Dalles to Portland: The Columbia Gorge
23: The Portland-Vancouver Basin: A Story of Erosion and Deposition from Incoming and Outgoing Flood Waters
24: The Willamette Valley South of Portland and the Tualatin Valley West of Portland
25: Portland to the Pacific Ocean Part VI: Floods from an Even More Distant Past
26: Ancient Cataclysmic Floods Part VII: The Conclusion and the Future
27: The Conclusion But Not the End Appendices and Resources Index About the Authors Ooligan Press Acknowledgements
John Eliot Allen coauthored the first edition of Cataclysms on the Columbia with Marjorie Burns. He was Professor Emeritus of Geology at Portland State University, a lifelong student of the Columbia Gorge, and author of The Magnificent Gateway, a detailed guide to its geology. He passed away on December 17, 1996, at the age of 88 following an illustrious career as a field geologist, professor, and writer. All three of the authors are native Oregonians.
Marjorie Burns is an author, traveler, and lover of minor adventures, as well as Professor Emeritus at Portland State University. Her main area of expertise is nineteenth-century British literature, though she has also published extensively on J. R. R. Tolkien’s fiction and scholarship. She lives with her husband in Washington State at the base of a Cascade volcano and rock climbs, cycles, or kayaks when she’s freed from writing and work.
Scott Burns is a professor of geology at Portland State University with research interests that include engineering geology, environmental geology, soils, landslides, geomorphology, and Quaternary geology. When not teaching, he serves on various geological committees and has written numerous articles, chapter contributions, and books. He has taught in Switzerland, New Zealand, Washington, Colorado, and Louisiana before coming home to Oregon. His first book was Environmental, Groundwater, and Engineering Geology: Applications from Oregon (1998). At PSU he has received the Distinguished Faculty Award and the George C. Hoffman Award.
Posted October 18, 2009
In the early twentieth century, J. Harlen Bretz was a geologist who walked around what were believed to be glacial formations carved through mountains and valleys in the states of Oregon and Washington. He took detailed notes and observed rock patterns from Spokane to Portland, Oregon.and came to the conclusion that a huge prehistoric flood created the canyon called the Scablands. This was completely at odds with the beliefs of established geologists of the time, and he knew this, but he stood up for truth anyway. This book proves to be not only a scientific study but also a riveting drama.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.