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Calcrete: Friends of the Pleistocene PNW Cell 2023 - Photos from Field Trip to Eastern WA

Thanks for all who attended the 2023 Friends of the Pleistocene PNW Cell's field trip and for sending in your pics!


Proper geology at Hendricks Road. Rene Barendregt photo.

Saddle Mts hike.

Offramp site near Othello.


Liesle Road north of Warden in eastern Quincy Basin. Bruce Bjornstad drone photo.

James, Rene, Ralph, Lydia, and Bruce at Herman Railcut.

Old flood gravel beneath old loess and two calcrete ledges at Herman Railcut.

Boulder gravel of mostly basalt, but chunks of ripped-up calcrete, cemented loess, and Vantage Sandstone can be found. Herman Railcut.

Andrew inspecting Cougar Point Tuff. The airfall ash, thickened and reworked by streams, thins to the east and west with distance away from the Columbia River channel.

Calcrete exposures in south-central Washington. We visited LR - Liesle Rd, OFF - Offramp, HRC - Herman Railcut, HX - Hendricks Rd, WBO - White Bluffs Overlook, SM - Saddle Mts/Maughan Ranch, NO - New Orchard, and OD - O'Sullivan Dam/Lower Lind Coulee.

Root casts in loess beneath a thick calcrete ledge.

Pillow palagonite and diatomite dikes at Rd 9 SW and Rd G.5, Frenchman Hills.

Road 9 SW.

Phreatic not tectonic dikes at Road 9 SW.

Rene, Rene's shoes, John, Andrew, Chris, and Lisa at Road 9 SW.

Lynn and Jimmy at Road 9 SW.

For comparison, the same invaded and deformed diatomite occurs in pillow-palagonite elsewhere along the Frenchman Hills crest. This location is an old quarry in tilted basalt off Adams Rd right at the high point of the fold.

Textbook glassy rinds at Road 9 SW.

Perfect pillows at Road 9 SW.

Blocky calcrete ledge typical of the region. Booker Rd along canal.

Deformed contact between white Cougar Point Tuff and tan tuffaceous fluvial sandstone. Michael Polenz photo.

White areas are relict surfaces armored by calcrete. Green areas are Saddle Mts and Frenchman Hills uplifts. Purple are bedrock scablands and sediment-veneered floodways. Orange is the Palouse hills. Stars and dashed white line approximate the Miocene diatomite basin (i.e., Quincy diatomite). This area between the Hog Ranch-Naneum anticline and the Palouse Slope, has remained a topographic low for tens of millions of years, attracting big rivers, big floods, thick diatomite deposits, thick ash, Ringold basin-fill sediments, and calcrete.

Liesle Road, Quincy Basin. Touchet Beds over a sandy flood bed over calcrete developed in old loess. Bruce Bjornstad photo.

Baked contact between Elephant Mtn flow and 11.8 Ma Cougar Point Tuff, Saddle Mts. Michael Polenz photo.

Harvey, John, and Lydia's foot at White Bluffs. Rene Barendregt photo.

The Columbia River cuts cleanly through the Saddle Mts anticline at Sentinel Gap. White nets cover fruit crops along the west bank. Lands of the Yakima Training Center and Firing Range beyond. Basalt cliffs at the fold crest rise 525m (1720') above the river. Rene Barendregt photo.

Active and stabilized dunes along Crab Creek viewed from Sentinel Peak, Saddle Mts.

McKernan Cabin and Maughan Ranch land beyond. Saddle Mts (June 2022 photo).

Hendricks Road outcrop.

Roadside pullout along Road E near crest of Frenchman Hills, looking south to Smyrna Bench. Rene Barendregt photo.

Ringold Fm and capping calcrete at White Bluffs Overlook.

Soft sediment deformation in upper Ringold Fm at White Bluffs Overlook. Swirled lake floor muds often found immediately below rippled sand beds.

Inspecting gravel at White Bluffs. Rene Barendregt photo.

Flat-lying Ringold lakebeds at bottom (Savage Island member) are overlain by a 0.5m-thick zone of transported and loading-deformed Ringold, then 2 meters of calcrete rip-up gravel with exotic clasts and south-dipping foresets, then a 2m-thick ledge of blocky calcrete. White Bluffs Overlook.

Deformation in "massive sand" unit at White Bluffs Overlook.

Colorful paleosol interval between two Ringold lakebed sections at White Bluffs Overlook. Gleyed gray-green are wetland seds and soils. Reddish units are thoroughly cicada-burrowed silts above are windblown deposits that accumulated on the abandoned lakeshore. A yellowish calcrete zone developed between. Wet lowland to dry upland transition.

Thin diatomite beds in upper Ringold Fm at White Bluffs Overlook indicate the lake wasn't too deep at this time (light penetration needed).

Hanford Reach of the Columbia River and Gable Mtn anticline across the river. Ridgy remnants of old landslides calved off from the calcrete-armored White Bluffs escarpment comprise most of the east bank. View looking SW.

Professor Chris appreciating the sweeping views of the Crab Creek Valley and Royal Slope from Saddle Mts crest. Rene Barendregt photo.

Scott and Lydia at Saddle Mts. Rene Barendregt photo.

Lydia talks structure, old rivers, and detrital zircons at Sentinel Gap.

Saddle Mts hike.

Overview map of field trip area.

Extent of Ringold Formation approximates calcrete region. Map by Triangle Associates.

"Digging in that hard, old caliche. What you got ain't nothing new. This country is hard on people." - No Country For Old Men


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