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March 29, 2015

Erratic Rock State Natural Site

by Jim

Erratic Rock
This is the Erratic Rock State Natural Site.

(Click here to view the interactive picture in a new tab. When it opens, click and drag to look around.)

This is the view from Erratic Rock State Natural Site near McMinnville, Oregon. The large rock in the foreground originated in the northern Rocky Mountains, nowhere near this spot. It is the only rock of its type outside of Canada, and was transported here during a massive ice age flood around 15 thousand years ago.

This VR was my entry for the World Wide Panorama “Weather” project for winter, 2015.

The view across the valley helps give a sense of the flood’s scale. The floods are called the Missoula Floods. During the event, an entire lake the size of the Great Lakes suddenly emptied when an ice dam gave way, resulting in something known as a “glacial lake outburst flood“. The water swept across eastern Washington, through the Columbia River Gorge, and filled the valley shown here (the Willamette Valley) before finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

The amount of water was so large that it filled the valley to a depth of hundreds of feet. The water would have been filled with debris, including icebergs, one of which was carrying this boulder. The iceberg finally came to rest here, at what was probably the western shore of the temporary lake.

Photography Notes
This picture was processed from a single exposure. A nadir shot was taken from several feet away in order to eliminate shadows cast by the strong sunlight. It blended in ok, but it turns out that the asphalt was a darker shade when taken from the other location, looking back towards the sun. I think that the little spaces in the surface were shadows, instead of being illuminated. So blending that image in was a little challenging. The sky was also a small challenge because there were no features to align that shot with the others. I aligned it by hand, which was good enough because there were really no features that needed alignment anyway.

Spiritual Notes
Grand vistas like this help us see the vastness of creation. In this case, the thought of the gigantic flood only enhances that perspective. Pondering such things can lead us to wonder about our place in creation. Are we really as small as it sometimes seems when contemplating things of such scale, or is there more to being human?

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