A Landing a Day

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Davenport, Washington

Posted by graywacke on May 18, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a twice-a-week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2013; A Landing A Day blog post number 431.

Dan –  Two USers in a row?  Not with this landing in  . . . WA; 50/47; 3/10; 3; 153.4.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 dave landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows that I have no choice but to feature Davenport:

 dave landing 2

I landed in the watershed of the Bluestem Ck; on to Crab Ck; on to the mighty Columbia (141st hit).

 Interesting, that Crab Creek.  Check out this map that shows how far it is from my landing to the spot where Crab Ck discharges into the Columbia:

 dave landing 3

Phew!  That’s one long creek!  From Wiki:

 Crab Creek is 163 miles long and drains a watershed in eastern Washington of 5,097 square miles. It is sometimes referred to as the “longest ephemeral stream in North America”.

Huh.  Not only is it the longest “creek” where I’ve landed in (I think), but, according to Wiki, it’s the longest ephemeral stream in North America.  On the outside chance that you don’t know what ephemeral means, it means that the creek flows only sometimes, after snowmelt or large rain events (but is dry at other times).

 Must not be much rain out there, eh? Nearby Spokane gets 16.5” per year.  I would think that’d be enough to keep such a large watershed going . . .

Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, which shows a agricultural landscape, with interesting-looking ripples in the topography:

dave ge 1

Here’s a GE StreetView shot that was taken on a road quite a few miles north of my landing.  Although it’s a little far away, it shows the typical look of the countryside:

dave ge streetview n of landing

 Well, it turns out that Davenport is hook challenged, meaning I can’t find anything to write about.  If a town comes up empty, what can I lean on?  Geology, of course!  I landed in the middle of the Columbia River Basin Flood Basalt province.  Say what?  Well, returning to one of my favorite websites (which I strongly recommended in my Missoula MT post), here’s an excerpt from HugeFloods.com:

The Columbia Basin of eastern Washington is plastered with deep layers of a fine grained black rock known as basalt. The basalt is lava that cooled and hardened after it flooded over the landscape.  These astounding lava floods occurred on a scale unequalled anywhere else on the entire planet.

When we think of lava flows, images of Hawaii’s volcanoes come to mind. Oozing red masses, capped with smudgy gray outer surfaces, slowly drizzle down mountainsides like streams of molasses. This provides exciting volcano footage for television documentaries. But the lava outflows from Hawaiian volcanoes rank as puny by comparison to the volumes of molten material that bubbled up from below the surface in the Pacific Northwest’s interior regions.

Lava began flowing in the Columbia Basin about 17 million years ago and continued until about 6 million years ago. In all, there may have been 300 individual outbreaks. Each lava flood was separated by thousands of years in which nothing happened.

The cumulative effect was staggering. By the time these eruptions ceased, most of the Columbia Basin was coated with basalt rock at least one mile thick. In the central and southern Yakima Valley the accumulated basalt measures three miles in depth.

 From the same website, here’s a map showing the extent of the basalt:


Wow.  And for all you non-geologists out there, you have to realize that 17 million years ago is nothing (let alone 6 million years ago).  Practically yesterday, geologically-speaking.  Imagine being there, and watching it happen. 

 Anyway, I guess there’s some speculation that the basalt is associated with the big hotspot that underlies Yellowstone . . .

 Here’s a GE regional GE shot that actually provides some additional geological info:

 dave ge 2

Note that there are agricultural areas (like where I landed), and then there are areas where it looks like the landscape has been disrupted by drainage of some sort.  Well, these darker areas are the channeled scablands; the terrain that was scoured by the huge floods caused when the glacial ice dams that caused Glacial Lake Missoula gave way.  See my Missourla MT post for an extensive discussion of this whole phenomenon.

 Anyway, here’s a scablands map (from Eastern Washington University).  The blue areas are the scablands, and Davenport is visible along Route 2 in the north central part of the map.  You can see that there are “islands” of non-scabland areas, like south and east of Davenport where I landed.  Today, these are agricultural areas because they weren’t eroded and sculpted by the huge floods.

 dave ewu press scabland map

I’ll close with a couple of GE Panoramio shots.  First this by Helbert Vogelzang, showing some hay bales (although wheat is the money crop in these parts):

 dave pano helbert vogelzang

And then this, by “iwasborn2balive,” showing what I assume is a springtime shot of new growth:

 dave pano iwasborn2balive

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day


One Response to “Davenport, Washington”

  1. Jordan said

    Hooray for geology posts!

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