It’s #TriviaTuesday *and* my latest photo column has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler!
How many of you have ever heard of, or seen, columnar jointing? It’s a pretty cool geological formation that usually occurs with basaltic lava (as opposed to other lavas, although it’s happened with other mixes before). When lava begins to cool, it contracts, and when it contracts, it causes fracturing. This fracturing begins at the top and bottom and moves inward toward the center. Turns out (long story short) that the hexagonal pattern is the most efficient way for heat to be released when cooling. Columnar jointing occurs perpendicular to the original lava flow.
You can see really cool columnar jointing (aka columnar basalts) at places like Devils Postpile and Devils Tower national monuments. You can also see all sorts of columnar jointing along the Columbia River and in other parts of eastern Washington State, like at Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. And that’s what today’s photo column is all about: photography and exploration at Drumheller Channels.
Click on either the image above or the image below to read more and see more pics.
It’s Trivia Tuesday! So, what are you looking at in this image, you may be asking yourself. You see a teeny white SUV to the upper left of this image, some golden grass and scrubby sagebrush. You see a large hole in the center and center-left of the image. Well, that’s a pothole you are looking at. Yes, a pothole – like the ones your vehicle drives over and it doesn’t get fixed until some member of the city council or their relative damages their car driving over it and they demand it gets fixed. Only this pothole was created by something entirely different, and is out in the middle of Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, a part of the Channeled Scablands landscape seen along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail in Eastern Washington state.
Ever heard of a “kolk”? Tens of thousands of years ago, colossal floodwaters surged through the area, higher than that white SUV, higher than any of the buttes you see in the image. Those waters were so strong and fast that they created corkscrew vortices called kolks (whirlpools) within the water. Those kolks drilled down into the ground and eroded and carried away boulders and soils to other destinations, leaving scraped and scoured landscape with these large potholes. And they are large. If you were to hike within the landscape of Drumheller Channels (much of which is located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge), you’d see dry potholes and water-filled potholes.
I’m writing a series of photo columns about the Channeled Scablands for the National Parks Traveler. Part 1 has already been published. Parts 2 and 3 are going to be published in later months.
The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about my day trip to Eastern Washington’s Dry Falls and Channeled Scablands landscape along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.
To read the article, click on the image above.
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