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project date: 2012 | by susan jurasz | 3 related blog(s)

One of the most difficult topics to effectively interpret is geology, in part because the events occurred over thousands of years ago and because the scale is beyond our capacity to imagine. In some instances, we can point to folded striations in the rock or inland ocean fossils to help illustrate the story. But today, our challenge is even greater: how to interpret an Ice Age flood!

For a period of 3,000 years, at least 40 cataclysmic floods of monumental force and dimension swept over the region between Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. These floods, caused by the breaking of an ice dam in front of the prehistoric Lake Missoula, occurred between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago near the end of the Ice Age. More than 16,000 square miles were repeatedly inundated with hundreds of feet of water - permanently transforming the landscape.
Most Tualatin residents are aware of the local significance of the Ice Age. They are surrounded by daily reminders: school kids meander past the 14,000 year old mastodon skeleton as they enter the library, a tusk and molar can be seen at the Heritage Center, ice age erratics are scattered around town, and a local high school teacher regularly conducts "digs" with his student - recently unearthing the bones of an ancient bison. Many of Tualatin's public art pieces celebrate this icy history.

The City of Tualatin has engaged Sea Reach to assist with the planning and development of an Ice Age Flood walking trail. To implement the tour immediately, a virtual tour for smartphones is currently under development.

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