Abstract

The area submerged by Glacial Lake Missoula includes several intermontane basins and constricted interconnecting valleys or “narrows” that drain to a single outlet, the Clark Fork River. A sudden failure of the ice dam that blocked this valley, near the Idaho-Montana State line, caused unusually large and rapid currents through the narrows and wind gaps in the partly submerged rim of Camas Prairie basin. Evidences of such currents include commensurate, but otherwise ordinary, effects of streams confined to rocky channels and the unique giant ripple marks. At its high stage the lake is roughly estimated to have held more than 500 cubic miles of water of which nearly three-fourths was stored above a constricted part of the Clark Fork Valley called the Eddy Narrows. Calculations based on available incomplete data indicate a flow through the Eddy Narrows that reached a maximum of 9.46 cubic miles per hour. Whether the lake was completely drained at that time has not been determined, but a later set of beaches testifies that the basin held a lake soon after the rapid outflow. Apparently the final draining was gradual.

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