Large Pleistocene Floods along the Columbia River

ResearchBlogging.orgI spent the last weeks travelling through Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon, tracking evidence for the floods that shaped the landscape of the US Pacific Northwest. For most of it I was privileged to be guided by Jim O'Connor (USGS, Portland), world-class specialist in these events (sample references below). The pictures of this geological trip show erosional and depositional features produced by outburst floods during the Pleistocene, including the Missoula ice-dam collapse and the Bonneville flood. 
Snake River gorge cutting the
Flood Basalt layers, through which
the Bonneville flood discharged
Detail of the boulder field. Note preferent tilt 
of boulders towards the left, in agreement with
flow direction. More pics here and here

Rounded boulders left by the high waters of the
Bonneville flood among a Neogene basalt ridge
spillway. Flood flow in the direction of the picture
More pics here.

One thing that makes this scenario key to understand the importance of large flooding events in shaping landscape is the ubiquitous Columbia River Basalt formation (one of the largest flood basalt regions) and the Yellostone-Snake River volcanic zone. Both covered many of the areas we visited with a nearly flat layer of very fluid basalt, during the Neogene, long before the Pleistocene floods (see e.g. Fouch, Geology, 2011). The simple relief and lithological setting left by the flood basalts enhances the erosional features related to the Pleistocene water floods and the presence of vertical tectonic motions. 


Porqué sin ciencia no habrá economía

Al parecer, en España se podrían cerrar pronto centros de investigación, con toda su plantilla. Lo que ya es una realidad es que el CSIC acaba de anunciar la suspensión del pago de costes de proyecto debido al retraso en los ingresos que recibe del estado (otro artículo aquí). Eso significa que se para la investigación en los 136 centros del CSIC. No podemos pagar la publicación de un artículo, ni asistir a congresos, ni pagar gasolina para estudios de campo, ni comprar un reactivo para un experimento, a menos que lo pague el investigador de su bolsillo (y sucede, creedme). Esta situación endurece la tendencia que dura ya tres años.

¿Cómo va esto a hipotecar la economía de la próxima generación? Se ha explicado muchas veces, pero voy a poner otro breve ejemplo semi-ficticio:


Outstanding Open Questions in Geoscience - a draft

Visit the Updated version of this old draft.

[The following list responds to personal curiosity about open scientific questions that keep Earth-science researchers busy across disciplines. This is probably biased towards what has been my own field and towards Solid Earth in generalNote that this list is based on a personal draft, then completed with former studies found elsewhere (e.g., Science 125th anniv., or the NAS report Origin and evolution of Earth [pdf] [html], or this other NAS report on surface processes), and then with further ideas that came through Twitter, discussions, and from this earlier blog post (thank you all contributors!). I grouped and selected them arbitrarily following my own biased personal judgement. The references may not always be the best representative.]
Suggestions are very welcome. If you feel your field is extremely exciting but not represented here, please leave your comments below or send them via Twitter to @danigeos.

Visit the Updated version of this old draft.

Visit the Updated version of this old draft.