Last week was arguably one of the longer weeks of my life, although it was also one of the most fun. Despite being a physicist, I think we all got to learn a surprising amount about geology during the trip. I think I now know all I'll ever need about basalt and flood features! I don't really know what to add to this, as summarizing each day would take an excessive amount of space and time, but giving you an overview of the trip as a whole seems too trivial. Anyway, a lot of other people have done that.
So I guess I'll say what I learned. I learned that going on a trip that involves long (really long) flights/layovers is basically an instant bonding experience. I learned that basalt is sharp and not always the best rock to climb, as it might decide that it wants to hurt you. I learned that, while rolling in a giant plastic pipe in an empty quarry, you have to brace your arms and legs or you just slide around. Oh yeah, and I learned about basalt columns too. :)
Besides all of that, the trip itself was breathtaking. I took a lot of pictures-- 400 something-- but somehow they still don't manage to quite capture the magnificence of it all. Everything we passed was beautiful, even if it was a wheat field by the side of a road. Maybe it was because it was so radically different from here, in Maryland, and we're just missing the beauty at home because we're used to it. Something to ponder, at least.
In closing, I want to thank LPSA and everyone who had a part in planning this trip, for taking us to a place so grand that sometimes it really was like being on another planet. Everyone was amazing, and together all of you guys (even Rebecca!! Awesome logo) are what made this trip so great, despite setbacks and delayed flights. So thanks. It definitely will not be forgotten, at least not by me.
"In a series of papers published between 1923 and 1932, J Harlen Bretz described an enormous plexus of proglacial stream channels eroded into the loess and basalt of the Columbia Plateau, eastern Washington. He argued that this region, which he called the Channeled Scablands, was the product of a cataclysmic flood, which he called the Spokane flood. Considering the Nature and vehemence of the opposition to his hypothesis, which was considered outrageous, its eventual scientific verification constitutes one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of modern science."
Victor R. Baker, 1978
In Baker's 1978 paper, he highlights the relationship between the flood morphology of the channeled scablands and the flood channels on Mars. In both cases, cataclysmic floods scoured the landscape, producing deeply incised river valleys, streamlined hills, and other indicative erosional features.
The recent discovery of columnar jointing in Martes Valles, Mars (Milazzo et al., 2009) has strengthened the relationship between the Channeled Scablands, where jointing is readily observable in the Columbia basalts, and our terrestrial neighbor.