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The Missoula Floods (also known as the Spokane Floods or the Bretz Floods) refer to the cataclysmic floods that swept periodically across eastern Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge at the end of the last ice age.
The glacial flood events have been researched since the 1920s.
Bretz coined the term Channeled Scablands in 1923 to refer to the area near the Grand Coulee, where massive erosion had cut through basalt deposits.
Bretz published a paper in 1923, arguing that the Channeled Scablands in Eastern Washington were caused by massive flooding in the distant past. Pardee, had worked with Bretz and had evidence of an ancient glacial lake that lent credence to Bretz's theories.
Shaw's team of geologists reviewed the sedimentary sequences of the Touchet beds and concluded that the sequences do not automatically imply multiple floods separated by decades or centuries.
Rather, they proposed that sedimentation in the Glacial Lake Missoula basin was the result of jökulhlaups draining into Lake Missoula from British Columbia to the north.
This allowed liquid water to seep into minuscule cracks present in the ice dam.
As the water emerged from the Columbia River gorge, it backed up again at the 1 mile (1.6 km) wide narrows near Kalama, Washington.
Some temporary lakes rose to an elevation of more than 400 ft (120 m), flooding the Willamette Valley to Eugene, Oregon and beyond.
Bretz's view, which was seen as arguing for a catastrophic explanation of the geology, ran against the prevailing view of uniformitarianism, and Bretz's views were initially disregarded. C, invited the young Bretz to present his previously published research at a January 12, 1927 meeting where several other geologists presented competing theories. Bretz defended his theories, and this kicked off an acrimonious 40-year debate over the origin of the Scablands.
Both Pardee and Bretz continued their research over the next 30 years, collecting and analyzing evidence that led them to identify Lake Missoula as the source of the Spokane Flood and creator of the Channeled Scablands.
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His most compelling argument for separate floods was that the Touchet bed deposits from two successive floods were found to be separated by two layers of volcanic ash (tephra) with the ash separated by a fine layer of windblown dust deposits, located in a thin layer between sediment layers ten rhythmites below the top of the Touchet beds. By analogy, since there were 40 layers with comparable characteristics at Burlingame Canyon, Waitt argued they all could be considered to have similar separation in deposition time.