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        Sculpted by Floods: The Northwest's Ice Age Legacy

        KSPS’s Sculpted by Floods tells the story of the ice age floods in the Pacific Northwest. It is a story of the earth's power, scientific discovery and human nature - one touted by enthusiasts as the greatest story left untold. During the last ice age, floods flowing with ten times the volume of all the world's current rivers combined inundated the Northwest. What they left behind was a unique landscape that citizens of the Pacific Northwest call home.

        With these video clips and lesson activities, students will learn how floods create landforms and shape a region’s landscape, using the Missoula floods as a case study. Visit KSPS Education for additional educator resources.

        Sculpted by Floods - Introduction

        An overview of the ice age floods and how they shaped the landscape of the Pacific Northwest.

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        Sculpted by Floods - Ice Dam and Glacial Lake Missoula

        An overview of how Glacial Lake Missoula was formed.

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        Sculpted by Floods - The Flood Trajectory

        The Missoula floods flowed through the Columbia Gorge, the Willamette Valley, Vancouver, now present day Portland, Astoria down to the Pacific Ocean, reshaping the surrounding landscape.

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        Sculpted by Floods - The Speed of the Missoula Floods

        The Missoula floods flowed at 500 million cubic feet per second, 60 times greater than the flow of the Amazon.

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        Sculpted by Floods - The Creation of Landforms

        The Missoula floods carved new river channels or altered exiting ones along the Washington/Oregon border, created dry falls in Central Washington similar to the falls at Niagara but twice the size, and quarried gullies and canyons, the Grand Coulee being the largest.

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        Sculpted by Floods - J Harlen Bretz’s Discovery

        Geologist J Harlen Bretz was the first to identify a theory of the ice age floods.

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        Sculpted by Floods - Joseph Pardee and Glacial Lake Missoula

        Scientist Joseph Pardee gathered evidence that indicated the existence of Glacial Lake Missoula in Montana.

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        Sculpted by Floods - Joseph Pardee’s Field Studies

        Joseph Pardee conducted field studies in the late 1930s in Central Washington and Western Montana. His findings confirmed Bretz’s theory of the ice age floods and that Glacial Lake Missoula was the source of these floods.

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        Sculpted by Floods - The Acceptance of J Harlen Bretz’s Ice Age Flood Theory

        After field studies conducted in the 1940s, J Harlen Bretz published a paper in 1956 providing substantial photographic evidence of great floods (the “Spokane Flood”) shaping the landscape of Central Washington and Western Montana. Bretz’s theory was widely accepted thereafter.

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        Sculpted by Floods - Evidence of Multiple Floods

        Geologists in the 1970s conducted field studies that suggested that the great flood from Glacial Lake Missoula occurred not just once but multiple times.

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        Sculpted by Floods - The Shaping of the Pacific Northwest Landscape

        Floods and glaciers have shaped the landscape of the Pacific Northwest from creating the region’s aquifer and recreation sites and determining the regions’ transportation systems.

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