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Nick on the Rocks

Dry Falls

January 19, 2017

One of the largest waterfalls in the history of Earth happened in Washington State. Three-times the width of Niagara, the volume of the Ice Age falls was 10-times the combined flow of all the rivers on Earth.


Nick Zentner

Nick Zentner is the science outreach and education coordinator for the Department of Geological Sciences at Central Washington University.  He has produced more than 40 short videos about Central Washington geology. Since 2008, Zentner’s colloquial, humorous lectures have made him a popular speaker at educational and civic organizations throughout the Northwest. In 2015, Nick received the prestigious James Shea Award, a National Association of Geoscience Teachers award recognizing exceptional delivery of Earth Science content to the general public.  

More stories by Nick Zentner

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These are great! Whetting my appitite for more information!

Thanks Dana. We are working on a new batch this spring. 

The Dry Falls film spotlights a treasure in central Washington.  The episode is very well done.  It is beautifully edited with compelling shots.  Many years ago, I was traveling from Yakima to Omak with a car full of 12 year old Little League baseball players.  We stopped at a lookout point to see these Falls.  The Falls put the boys into a high energy of interest and questions.  I was not adequate to answer their questions.  Now here are some answers for them.  I hope these episodes continue and can go into a full film story. 

Very cool, Nancy. Great to hear stories like that. 

As I understand things, a water fall wears the cliff it flows over in an upstream direction.  Other desctiptions of eastern Washington imply (or state) that lava flows origionally made the whole area flat and solid basalt.  So, what was the ground at and downstream of Dry Falls like on the day before the flood??  

Thanks for the question, Mike. There were dozens of floods down the Grand Coulee.  The original position of Dry Falls was at Soap Lake. Each flood lengthened the Grand Coulee by moving the waterfall rim north.  

Nick,I have waited almost 70 years for an explanation and description as clear and compelling as yours of Dry Falls.  Visiting with my parents  in 1947-48 I recall my awe, and in subsequent years whenever in the area I have stopped.  Over the years I have formed a pretty fair understanding of the Floods, but your video is a terrific way to present the events for newcomers.My wife, who is less engaged with the subject than I, could only exclaim “Oh my God, I didn’t realize!!  She does now, and thanks to you!!  I am going to donate a little more now to KCTS, just because they made it possible.David H.

Very nice to read that, David.  Thank you much.

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