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Missoula Floods Revisited

Pete Springer/OPB

About a month ago, people packed Portland’s Bagdad Theater to hear about an ancient geological event that shaped the region’s landscape. The Missoula Floods swept through Washington and Oregon between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago, moving massive rocks and soil to create the hills and valleys we’re familiar with today. The floods continue to fascinate scientists and ordinary people alike. A book about the floods and the scientists who first discovered their role in shaping the topography around us has sold out a year after Portland State University’s Ooligan Press put out an updated edition. The publisher is getting ready to release a second printing.

The floods also brought nutrient-rich soil to the Willamette Valley, which still affects how things grow here, including Pinot Noir grapes.

OPB TV’s Oregon Field Guide has featured stories about the Missoula Floods in past programs and they’re working on a new story about radon, which is another result of the floods.

Have you read about the Missoula Floods? What interests you about this geological event? Do you know how the flood waters shaped your neighborhood or favorite hiking spot?


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