PALEOMAGNETISM OF EARLY AND MIDDLE PLEISTOCENE CATACLYSMIC FLOOD DEPOSITS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Abstract:Evidence is growing that cataclysmic floods, such as jokulhlaups, have scoured parts of the Pacific Northwest not only during the last glacial maximum (such as the Missoula Floods), but also during earlier parts of the Quaternary. These floods left large erosional features in the “Channeled Scablands” such as colossal flood gravel bars, as well as sediments deposited in backflooded tributary valleys. Evidence for pre-last-glacial cataclysmic floods in the region includes very-well-developed paleosols capping flood deposits, middle Pleistocene U-series disequilibrium dates on some flood sediments, and reversed-paleomagnetic-polarity flood sediments, indicating early Pleistocene age. We document additional evidence for ancient cataclysmic floods at two site, near The Dalles, OR and Othello, WA. The Dalles site consists of 8 flood sediment - capping Stage I to III calcic paleosol couplets, with the third unit from the top containing tephra of the Dibekulewe volcanic ash (0.5 Ma). The sandy nature of the proposed flood sediments is too coarse-grained to attribute to aeolian transport. The Othello site consists of 2 meters of caliche over 40 cm of ancient flood sands and fine gravels
We collected paleomagnetic samples from both sites, conducting low temperature cycling (LT), alternating field (AF), and thermal demagnetization experiments on them. These experiments indicate that most samples contain: 1) a large magnetization component in multi-domain magnetite (demagnetized by LT), 2) a large component in goethite (demagnetized by 150°C), and 3) a primary magnetization in pseudo-single and single domain magnetite. The Dalles site spans the Matuyama-Brunhes reversal (0.78 Ma). These and previously published data indicate that one or more mechanisms for generating cataclysmic floods have existed in the Pacific Northwest for much of the Quaternary.