I was going to write about the Eastern Washington channeled scablands, but this article from National Geographic says it all; how they were formed and the scientific squabble over how they were formed. Also the photos accompanying the article are Nat Geo spectacular.
I could also write about Mount St Helens, one of the other catastrophic events that re-shaped 200 square miles of landscape in a few minutes, also featured in a National Geographic issue that I still own.
There is Crater Lake, formerly Mount Mazama. The Klamath tribe observed and recorded the explosive eruption that collapsed the volcano about 5600 years B.C.E. as an epic battle between the god of the underworld and the sky god.
Our house is situated on the Duwamish River, the blue-collar end of the Green River where it becomes a working water-way. We sit between two ancient Mount Rainier lahars. The Green originates at the foot of the mountain, and will send a wall of water, timber, the houses of Orting, and boulders down our valley when it goes off.
But there is nothing like the scablands. I’ve seen a lot of western drylands, from Death Valley to Canyonlands, where natural forces worked to fashion landscapes into the twisted and vast: salted plains, carven hoodoos, sandstone arches, golden canyons. But Dry Falls, Pothole Coulee, and Palouse Falls are eerie. To imagine walls of water channeling ancient lava deposits, smashing them to chunks and carrying these chunks hundreds of miles to spill into the Columbia basin and hurl them out to sea is just about impossible.
No evidence of human habitation has been found in or around Glacial Lake Missoula or the scablands, nor in my quick research for this blog, did I uncover a Native American explanation of what caused the massive floods. But I can only imagine that it was quite a fight.