The Ice Age Floods Alternatives Study tells the story of the great catastrophic floods of the Pacific Northwest: It is a project growing from the increasing interest in the Ice Age Floods of the Pacific Northwest and an exciting plan to present their story to the public. During the last great ice age, an ice sheet crept south into the Idaho Panhandle, blocked the mouth of the Clark Fork River and created the massive, 2,000-foot-deep Glacial Lake Missoula. Stretching for more than 200 miles, it contained more water than Lakes Erie and Ontario combined. Upon reaching its maximum depth, the water burst through the ice dam and shot out at a rate 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world. A towering mass of water and ice thundered toward the Pacific Ocean, stripped away hundreds of feet of soil, and cut deep canyons—“coulees”—into the underlying bedrock. At speeds approaching 65 miles per hour, the lake drained in as little as 48 hours. But the continental ice sheet continued moving south and blocked the Clark Fork River again and again, creating other Lake Missoulas. Over hundreds of years, the flood cycle was repeated dozens of times, each leaving a lasting mark on the landscape. Today we see how the floods carved out more than 50 cubic miles of earth, widened and deepened the Columbia Gorge, piled mountains of gravel 30 stories high, created giant ripple marks three stories high on the Camas Prairie, and scattered 200-ton boulders from the Rockies to the Willamette. Grand Coulee, Dry Falls, Palouse Falls—all were created by the flood waters, as were the Missoula and Spokane aquifers, numerous wetlands, the fertile Willamette Valley, and Quincy Basin. The Ice Age Floods Alternatives Study, which is funded by the National Park Service under their Special Resource Study Program, will culminate in a final report that will be presented to the Secretary of the Interior (end of 1999) for transmittal to Congress.