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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Bobbing Boulders
Hugh Bollinger

Bobbing Boulders

Illhorn Mountain and Illgraben Valley, Switzerland (credit: Wikipedia)

Geomorphology is the study of landforms and the processes that have created them. Whether mountain building, erosion, drifting continental plates, wind, or random events like earthquakes, floods, and landslides these geologic processes have produced all the landscapes on Earth.

One stark example of a geomorphological process is the Grand Coulee in Washington State. The landscape was formed in a geologic 'blink of an eye'. According to research studies, ~18,000 years ago a lobe of the Pleistocene icecap reached into what is now Idaho blocked present-day Lake Pend O'reille. The ice dam cut off the Clark's Fork River creating a gigantic lake reaching far into western Montana. As the lake deepened, the ice dam began to float and leaks likely developed. In a massive event, the ice dam failed. The volume of water stored behind the dam released 500 cubic miles of water (1 cubic mile=1,101,117,147,352 gallons) in ancient Lake Missoula. The mega-flood may have happened in just 48 hours. A flood of that scale, equivalent to 10X the combined flow of all the rivers in the world, would have been powerful beyond imagination. Trillions of gallons of water were released across the  landscape cut the sharp canyons visible today.

A video from Switzerland captured a similar process today when a huge volume of water, released by torrential rains, fell on a unstable mountain slopes. The 'bobbing boulders' in the video are the size of semi-trucks and mini-vans in this flood.

Geomorphology rules, as they say!



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