Two Generations of Clastic Dikes in Ice Age Flood Deposits

An excellent outcrop located along Touchet River Road North, some 13 miles north of Touchet, WA exposes two sets of clastic dikes. The older set contains silt, displays crisp vertical sheeting, and intrudes silt-pebble diamicts that are oxidized and contain abundant soil features consistent with their age (>35 ka). Dikes of the younger set contain coarse, black sand, are crudely-sheeted or unsheeted, and intrude backflood/slackwater rhythmites deposited by the Missoula floods (~18-14 ka).

The outcrop is located near the Plucker Historical Marker pullout. Professor Nick Zentner and I visited this exposure in June 2021 to do some filming. The mid-day lighting was atrocious and I forgot what I was supposed to say. So I figured I'd explain things with a figure, below. Still a draft version.

Some important takeaways:

a.) Dike fills reflect the character of the host sediment available to opening fractures. Silt fills the dikes in the older flood diamicts. Coarse sand fills the dikes in the younger Touchet Bed rhythmites.

b.) There are two generations of clastic dikes preserved here. They are separated by a prominent erosional surface that is not flat, but has some relief and is complex at the centimeter scale. Get your eyeballs up close and follow it across the exposure.

c.) The Touchet Beds are deformed here. The deformation appears related to the setting in which they were deposited, low in a wet valley. Older silt rhythmites are not deformed. If clastic dikes are the products of strong seismic shaking, then the entire section should be deformed. If liquefaction/fluid escape was involved, the lower strata, which contains abundant fine sand and silt, should serve as the source for dike fills. Dikes here taper downward, were filled from the top, and have truncated tops.

d.) Hiatuses, bioturbation, and soil development are associated with flood-cut surfaces.

e.) Once megafloods are introduced to the landscape, clastic dikes appear. None of the sediment below the prominent erosional surface and above the basalt is deformed. There is no evidence of fluid escape or stuff squirting around. Bedding remains pretty much flat. It has passively accepted fractures and dikes.

f.) Dikes in the Touchet Beds tend to sole into the underlying unconformity. I think the surface is slightly cemented, but due to the relief on the surface, its tough to see. Otherwise, that's a tough relationship to explain. Why do the younger dikes not cut clean through. They certainly do elsewhere in the area.

g.) Communicating with simple drawings for me often involves 1.) A clean sketch (which I photograph and adjust for contrast) and 2.) Graphic elements and text (which I add in Illustrator). Here, I've tried to include a lot of information in a small space, yet everything has space to breath - visual elbow room if you will. If at all possible, I avoid color in my figures. It doesn't reproduce well, especially on copy machines. Also, notice that I've not included a vertical scale. The visual real estate along the edges of my sketch are the most value and that's typically where a scale would go. I don't want to crowd things there. Do you miss it? Probably yes, but its not the first thing you think about. I will add some tick marks to the left of the Deformed/Undeformed boxes.


** Mistakes in figure to fix: Holocene loess/soil is not deformed; "undeformed" misspelled in 2nd gen description; Should read "indicators in lower portion" in setting description.

#clasticdike #megafloods #touchetbeds #wallawallavalley #missoulafloods #injectites #sandinjectites #channeledscabland

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