Home Page Not much time? ... Click here for a quick Ice Age Floods summary Ice Age Floods Feature of the month For many years one man understood the clues but no one would listen Glacial Lake Missoula Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington Temporary Lake Lewis Columbia Gorge Explore the variety of features created by the Ice Age Floods Columbia River Basalt Group The Pleistocene Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project Washington Wines Ice Age Floods Institute

Rock hammer

Ellensburg Chapter
of the Ice Age Floods Institute

The Ellensburg Chapter emphasizes informality, OPTIONAL membership dues, and a hearty welcome to anyone interested in the dramatic story of the Ice Age Floods and other geologic tales of central Washington.

Saddle Mountains IAFI field trip.

Sentinel Gap - Columbia River course through the Saddle Mountains

Sunday, October 26, 2014. 10:00 am - 6:00 pm.
Carpool. No reservations needed. No cost. Everyone welcome!
Nick Zentner, field trip leader.

We’ll depart at 10:00 am (sharp!) from CWU's Hebeler Hall parking lot (H6). Bring snacks, water, sturdy shoes, layers of clothing, and a pleasant disposition. Some field stops include a few hundred yards of hiking.

Vehicles (2WD is fine) require high clearance. Gravel/Dirt roads for Stop 3 and Stop 4. Glorious views at these stops! If the weather is foggy/low clouds….these stops will suck.

You’re invited to join our study of the Saddle Mountains. Detailed geologic mapping by Steve Reidel (1988) will be featured throughout the trip. In addition to bedrock layers and faults/folds, we will look at evidence for Ice Age Flooding and an old Columbia River course along the base of the Saddle Mountains.

Homework: Study Reidel’s maps (field trip guide) before October 26 to get the most out of our trip! (crayon coloring by Nick).

Next Field Trip: 26 October 2014

"Saddle Mountains"


Leader: Nick Zentner - CWU Geology

Babcock Bench from Saddle Mountains.

View north from Saddle Mountains to Babcock Bench (spring 2014)

Thanks for a great trip Karl!

Glaciation in the Upper Yakima River Watershed

Karl Lillquist (CWU Geography), field trip leader.


Trip details below Keechelus Lake photo

Keechelus Lake and Snoqualmie Pass.

Snoqualmie Pass and Keechelus Lake

Here’s Karl:

"In the relatively recent geologic past, glaciers were common in the Upper Yakima River Watershed. Most of the glaciers are now gone but their impacts linger. Contemporary transportation routes, water quality and quantity, logging and farming practices, sites of mining operations, and recreation opportunities all are shaped by past glaciation. Join us as we explore the landform and sediment evidence of past glaciations in the Upper Yakima River Watershed. The trip will include field stops at Swauk Prairie, Lake Cle Elum, Domerie Flats area, Swamp Lake, Snoqualmie Pass, and Alpental.

Several of the stops will include short (< 1/8 mile) walks.

Please bring appropriate clothing for September weather in the Eastern Cascades - it could be sunny, warm, and dry or it could be cold and wet. Our last several stops will be at over 3200 feet elevation. Also, make sure to bring lunch or snacks and drinks. We will take time for lunch on the shores of Lake Cle Elum.

Field trip guide from June 8th trip!

"Lower Kittitas County - Ice Age Deposits"

(Note: Field trip guide 10 MB)

Upper Grand Coulee Field Trip - 13 April 2014


Grand Coulee - Million Dollar Mile.
"Million Dollar Mile" - Grand Coulee

Million Dollar Mile: The Coulee City to Grand Coulee highway was moved from the floor of Banks Lake to the east side of the Upper Grand Coulee in the early 1950’s. In this area, construction crews had to blast through basalts to remain above Banks Lake. The costly construction linked to this blasting gives this stretch of the road its name.

Mt. Stuart Christmas morning 2013

Leader: Karl Lillquist (CWU)
Photo by: Kyle West

Leader: Nick Zentner (CWU)
Photo by: Tom Jones

Leader: Nick Zentner(CWU)
Photo by: Karl Lillquist


Image by Stev Ominski

October 2014 Foster Creek Arroyos
Paul Blanton (CWU)

September 2014 Upper Yakima River Glaciation Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Lower Kittitas County geology.
Karl Lillquist photo
June 2014 Lower Kittitas County Glacial Deposits Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

June 2014 Puget Lowland Glaciation
Ralph Haugured (UW)

Upper Grand Coulee geology field trip.
Nick Zentner photo
April 2014 Upper Grand Coulee Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU) Jack Powell (DNR)

April 2014 Terroir of Columbia Basin
Kevin Pogue (WC)

February 2014 Eskers in British Columbia
Andrew Perkins (CWU)

December 2013 Potholes Coulee Geomorphology
Andy Bach(WWU)

Lower Yakima River field trip.
Karl Lillquist photo
November 2013 Lower Yakima River Valley Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

October 2013 Alfred Wegener & Continental Drift
Mott Greene (UPS)

Teanaway field trip.
Kyle West photo
September 2013 Teanaway River Valley Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

June 2013 Ice Sculptors of Lake Chelan Jon Riedel (NPS)

Wenatchee field trip.
Tom Jones photo
June 2013 Wenatchee River Valley Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

May 2013 North Cascades Geology
Rowland Tabor (USGS)

Odessa Ring Dike Craters field trip.
Odessa Field Trip
Nick Zentner photo
April 2013 Odessa Craters Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)
Jack Powell (DNR)

February 2013 Paleoseismology of the northwestern part of the Yakima Fold and Thrust Belt
Brian Sherrod (USGS)

January 2013 Cascadia hazards inferred from mud, sand, tree rings, and brush strokes
Brian Atwater (USGS)

December 2012 Unraveling Archaeological Palimpsest in the Saddle Mountains, Grant County, Washington
Pat McCutcheon (CWU)

White Bluffs at Hanford Reach National Monument.
White Bluffs Field Trip

October 2012 White Bluffs Field Trip Nick Zentner (CWU)

October 2012 Scenario Earthquakes: Science, Policy, and Preparedness
Greg Beroza (Stanford)

September 2012 Kittitas Valley Vicinity Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

September 2012 Ellensburg on the Doorstep of the Ice Age Floods
Nick Zentner (CWU)

June 2012 Drumheller Channels Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

Drumheller Channels field trip. Lynn Weissenfels photo.
Drumheller Channels Field Trip
Lynn Weissenfels photo

June 2012 Causes of Glaciations and Ice Ages
Terry Swanson (UW)

April 2012 Palouse Falls Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Karl Lillquist photographs Palouse Falls.
Karl Lillquist at Palouse Falls

April 2012 Forensic Geology and Osteology: the Ice Age Misfortunes of the Bishop Ranch Ground Sloth and Her Would-be Detectives
Steve Hackenberger (CWU)

February 2012 Great Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest
Tim Melbourne (CWU)

December 2011 The Great Missoula Floods
Richard Waitt (USGS)

October 2011 Frenchman Coulee Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

Frenchman Coulee field trip.
Frenchman Coulee Field Trip

October 2011 Upper Kittitas County Groundwater Study
Matt Ely (USGS)

September 2011 Naches Landslides Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Naches Landslide field trip.
Naches Landslide field trip.
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2011 Icicle Creek Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Icicle Creek Geology field trip.
Icicle Creek field trip.
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2011 Megaflood Paleohydrology
Vic Baker (UA)

April 2011 Yakima Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

Yakima Field Trip, Ellensburg Chapter Ice Age Floods Institute
Yakima Field Trip
Orin Page Photo

April 2011 Pacific Northwest Megaflooding
Jim O'Connor (USGS)

February 2011 Glaciers from the Himalaya and Washington
Susan Kaspari (CWU)

December 2010 Paleoecology of the Northwest
Megan Walsh (CWU)

November 2010 Moses Coulee Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

Moses Coulee Field Trip, Ellensburg Chapter Ice Age Floods Institute
Moses Coulee Field Trip
Dale Brubaker Photo

October 2010 Mammoths of Temporary Lake Lewis
George Last (PNNL)

September 2010 Waterville Plateau Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Waterville Plateau Field Trip Ice Age Floods Institute.
Waterville Plateau Field Trip
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2010 Swauk Prairie Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU) and Nick Zentner (CWU)

Swauk Prairie Geology Field Trip.
Swauk Prairie Field Trip
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2010 Cataclysms on the Columbia
Scott Burns (PSU)

April 2010 Manashtash Ridge Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Manashtash Ridge
Manashtash Ridge Field Trip
Orin Page Photo

April 2010 Is there evidence for Glacial Flood Deposition on the Continental Margin seaward of the Columbia River Mouth
Marie Ferland (CWU)

February 2010 The Geology of Mars and the Scablands Connection
John Buchanan (EWU)

December 2009 The Columbia Basin Project: Expectations, Realizations and Implications
George Macinko (CWU Emeritus)

November 2009 Sentinel Gap Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)

Sentinel Gap Field Trip, Ice Age Floods Institute.
Sentinel Gap Field Trip
Karl Lillquist Photo

October 2009 A Brief Overview of the Geologic Evolution of the Columbia River System
Terry Tolan (USGS)

September 2009 Blewett Pass Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Blewett Pass Geology, Field Trip.
Blewett Pass Field Trip
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2009 Dry Falls Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Lower Grand Coulee, Ice Age Floods Institute Field Trip.
Dry Falls Field Trip
Nick Zentner Photo

June 2009 Ice Age Floods in the Cheney Area
Gene Kiver (EWU Emeritus)

April 2009 Drumheller Channels Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Drumheller Channels Ice Age Floods Institute Field Trip.
Drumheller Channels Field Trip
Nick Zentner Photo

April 2009 The Secret Life of Water in the Yakima Basin
Tom Ring (Yakama Nation)

February 2009 Landform Change in Kittitas County
Marty Kaatz (CWU Emeritus)

December 2008 Floods, Floods and Megafloods! Geologic and Climatic Signatures of Paleofloods in the Western U.S.
Lisa Ely (CWU)

November 2008
Potholes Coulee Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU)
Potholes Coulee field trip
Potholes Coulee

October 2008 Landscapes of Eastern Washington
Don Ringe (CWU Emeritus)

August 2008
Cooper Lake Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU) and Jack Powell (DNR)
Cooper Lake field trip
Cooper Lake field trip

August 2008
History of CWU Geology Dept. and the Ellensburg Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute.
Nick Zentner (CWU)

June 2008 An Iceberg Graveyard: Ice Age Flood Deposits of the Vantage Area.
Ryan Karlson (WA State Parks)

June 2008
Table Mountain Field Trip
Karl Lillquist (CWU) and Jack Powell (DNR)
Table Mountain Field Trip
Table Mountain
Photo by Nick Zentner

April 2008
Fire, Ice, & Floods: Iceland as a Contemporary Analog for Columbia Plateau Landscapes.
Karl Lillquist (CWU)

April 2008
Crab Creek Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU) and Karl Lillquist (CWU)
Sentinel Gap Erratic, Crab Creek field trip.
Sentinel Gap Erratic

Fegruary 2008
The Geologic Evolution of the Columbia River System.
Steve Reidel (WSU)

December 2007
Ice Age Floods Features Wenatchee and Moses Coulee.
Brent Cunderla (BLM)

October 2007
Excavations at the Wenas Creek Mammoth Site.
Patrick Lubinski (CWU)

April 2007
Yakima Canyon Field Trip
Nick Zentner (CWU) Jack Powell (DNR)
Nick Zentner describes Yakima Canyon Geology
Nick Zentner describes Yakima Canyon geology

June 2007
"Geology Exposed by the Ice Age Floods"
Jack Powell (DNR)

April 2007
Vantage and Frenchman Springs Coulee Field Trip
Jack Powell (DNR) and Karl Lillquist (CWU)
Jack Powell explains Frenchman Springs Coulee basalt.
Jack Powell explains Frenchman Springs Coulee basalt

April 2007
Exploring the Ice Age Floods
Bruce Bjornstad (PNNL)

February 2007
NW geology and the Glacial Lake Missoula floods.
Tom Foster (TCF), Nick Zentner (CWU) and Karl Lillquist (CWU)

Dear Ellensburg Ice Age Floods Institute folks -

Happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2014 is a good year for you and your family. As we start the new year, I ask you to consider renewing your Ice Age Floods Institute - Ellensburg Chapter membership. Or to become a new member for 2014...

We are grateful for past Ellensburg Chapter IAFI memberships! The Ellensburg Chapter receives 50% of the cost of your membership. The remaining 50% goes to the IAFI as a whole. To learn of the IAFI's mission, please click on: IAFI/About

Ellensburg Chapter Treasurer Tuck Forsythe reports that $2,401.67 is our current balance. In 2013, we spent your membership dues on field trip handouts and speaker travel costs. Our Chapter emphasizes informality, OPTIONAL membership dues, and a hearty welcome to anyone interested in the dramatic story of the Ice Age Floods and other geologic tales of central Washington.

To renew your IAFI membership for 2014, CLICK HERE: Join/IAFI

Thank you!
Nick, Karl, Tuck, Kay, John, & Tom

Chapter meetings are held in Hebeler Hall room 121 (Click for map)

Ellensburg, Washington sits at a geological crossroads – making it a perfect place to study an intoxicating variety of geology and physical geography. Within an hour’s drive from the CWU campus, students of all ages can learn hands-on lessons of the Columbia River Basalts, Cascades volcanism, Ice Age Floods landforms, plant fossils of the tropical Eocene, Ellensburg blue agates, the Yakima Fold Belt, among other local wonders.

Amazing geology surrounds Ellensburg

Clockwise from the Davidson tower:
  • West Bar giant current ripples-On display downstream from Wenatchee along the Columbia River, these photogenic ripples are well-known among Ice Age Floods experts around the world.
  • Ginkgo State Park-15 million-year-old petrified logs sit on basalt cliffs overlooking the Columbia River near the town of Vantage.
  • Columbia River Basalt-More than 300 basaltic lava flows flooded the Pacific Northwest time after time 7-15 million years ago - burying forests, changing river courses, and loading the crust of the region.
  • St. Helens-Awakening famously on May morning in 1980, the mountain woke again in 2004 building an impressive lava dome tucked inside its crater.
  • Rainier-Many geologists are concerned about Mt. Rainier-related natural hazards that threaten residents of the Puget Sound. Will there be volcanic mudflows flowing down river valleys in our lifetime?
  • Lahars (volcanic mudflows)-of the Ellensburg Formation perch above the Sunset Highway west of Ellensburg near the village of Thorp. Geologists continue to debate which extinct volcano is responsible for these deposits.
  • Central Cascades alpine peaks.(photo shows summit of Mt. Stuart)-93 million-year-old granodiorite dominates the geology of Mount Stuart - one of many peaks of the Central Cascades. Granodiorite forms when magma solidifies underground beneath volcanoes. So what happened to the volcano?

Ellensburg, WA - Gateway to the Ice Age Floods Region

Ice Age Floods path down Columbia River course at Vantage, WA.
Space Needle too short to mark Ice Age Floods high water mark at nearby Vantage, WA.
Yakima River Canyon
South of Ellensburg ... the Yakima River has maintained its meandering course as the surrounding land uplifted and folded.

Nick explains entrenched meanders between Ellensburg and Yakima, WA.

Karl Lillquist describes Columbia River Basalt and the Ice Age Floods in Frenchman Coulee.
The Columbia River Basalt Group, Ice Age Floods and Channeled Scablands are explained by Ellensburg Chapter Vice President Karl Lillquist. With classroom locations such as Frenchman Coulee (left), the material covered during brief field trip lectures is easily understood.

Ellensburg IAFI Chapter President
Hosts Geology Program

"Central Rocks", a geology talk show hosted by CWU Geologist Nick Zentner, has been in production since October of 2006. Broadcast in central Washington on KCWU-TV, the show regularly features faculty and staff at the Department of Geological Sciences at Central Washington University. Special episodes have featured visits from noteworthy regional geologists including Ice Age Floods author Bruce Bjornstad, Tsunami expert Brian Atwater, and Mount Rainier geologist Tom Sisson.
Nick Zentner interviews geologist/author Bruce Bjornstad.
Nick Zentner interviews geologist/author Bruce Bjornstad

Nick Zentner, Central Rocks, Central Washington University.

Mount Stuart Panorama (1 Minute) -Click to Play

BBC film crew and Nick Zentner.

BBC Filming

Ellensburg IAFI chapter President Nick Zentner spent time in September working with a crew from the BBC. Nick was interviewed and filmed at Frenchman Coulee and Dry Falls.
BBC film crew and Nick Zentner at Frenchman Coulee - Echo Basin.
BBC Crew and Zentner - Echo Basin (Frenchman Coulee)

Kittitas County's Giant Current Ripples - created by the Ice Age Floods

Nick tells story of the spectacular ripples on West Bar (Kittitas County).

West Bar giant current ripples created by the Ice Age Floods.
West Bar giant current ripples - Boat for scale.

Petrified wood between Ellensburg and the Columbia River.
Exposed by the Ice Age Floods near Vantage, WA.

Ice Age Floods Institute Speakers
Ellensburg Chapter members interact with professionals of various specialties during field trips. A few shown above ... Zentner, Powell, Bjornstad (geologists) - Lillquist (geographer) - Mattocks (Ornithologist) - Smith (Archaeologist).

Nick Zentner leads field trip on Frenchman Coulee - Echo Basin rim.
Ellensburg Chapter members enjoy Echo Basin view.

Palouse Falls clean up.

UPDATE: 2013 MUCH BETTER!!! Very little trash found around pool in December.

Click above to view example of trash found along edge of pool - bottom of Palouse Falls (December 2012). Good news to report ... some areas downstream from the main plunge pool (that were loaded with trash in 2011) were almost litter-free! Bad news is ... main pool shoreline was a mess! Let me know if you want to help Fall of 2014.

Ellensburg Ice Age Floods Institute members launch canoes and kayaks to explore Cooper Lake during a recent field trip.

Ellensburg Chapter members (and anyone else that wanted to tag along), launch watercraft to explore the Cooper Lake area. Field trip leaders Karl Lillquist (CWU) and Jack Powell (DNR) described general geology of the eastcentral Cascades, the glacial origins of the lake, impacts of global warming on present glaciers upstream of the lake, and recent modification of the lake by fire, flood, debris flow, and avalanche.

Ice Age Floods programming:

Geologist Bruce Bjornstad - Click to open video link.
Bruce Bjornstad

PNNL Geologist Bruce Bjornstad discusses the Missoula Floods and his popular 'On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods' guidebook series.
Geologist Jim O'Connor - Click to open video link.
Jim O'Connor

USGS Hydrologist Jim O'Connor discusses current research on Washington's Missoula Floods and Idaho's Bonneville Flood.
Nick Zentner interviews Ice Age Floods expert Dr. Victor R. Baker.
Vic Baker

UA Geology Professor Vic Baker discusses his distinguished career devoted to Washington's Channeled Scablands.
Geologist Nick Zentner - Click to open video link.
Nick Zentner

CWU Geology Professor Nick Zentner lectures on eastern Washington's unique landscapes (Floods of lava and floods of water).

All photos by Tom Foster unless otherwise noted.

HOME Space CONTACT Space SITE MAP IAFI Space LINKS Space © 2008
Lake Missoula
Lake Lewis
Ice Age Blog
Ice Age Express
Feature of the Month
The Mystery
25 Features
Channeled Scablands
Ice Age Floods Videos
Columbia Gorge
Feature Types
Columbia River Basalt
The Pleistocene
Grand Coulee Project
Washington Wine
Ice Age Floods Inst.
The Bonneville Flood