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Connell Lecture: The Bonneville and Missoula Floods: The Fastest Prehistoric Trips Across the Rockies

Location: 109-803-072, Connell, WA 99326

Learn more about the Missoula Floods and the lesser known Bonneville Flood that raced down the Snake River during the last Ice Age Floods.

During the Earth’s most recent Ice Age, a lobe of ice from Canada blocked Clarks Fork at the Idaho-Montana border, forming giant glacial Lake Missoula. The lake rose to float the ice dam, releasing a flood moving at 60 mph through Wallula Gap on its way to a lower Pacific Ocean. This happened dozens of times not only at the end of the last glaciation, but also during earlier glaciations of the most recent Ice Age. In contrast, pluvial Lake Bonneville did not rise high enough to release a flood until the Bear River was diverted by lava flows.

Robert J. Carson was raised in Lexington, Virginia. Mountaineering, whitewater boating, and spelunking in Rockbridge County, Virginia and during summers in northern New England sparked his interest in geology, which he studied at Cornell University. Bob earned an MS at Tulane University while employed by Texaco, exploring for petroleum in Louisiana and phosphate in Florida. His PhD research at the University of
Washington led to positions with the Washington Department of Ecology and the Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources. Bob taught at North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon before joining the Whitman College Department of Geology in 1975.

Most of his research is on Quaternary geology in Washington, northeastern Oregon, northwestern Wyoming, and Mongolia. His books include Hiking Guide to Washington Geology, Where the Great River Bends, East of Yellowstone, Many Waters, and The Blues.

Learn more at: Ice Age Flood Institute