Area of study
Kamiak Butte located in Whiteman County, Washington which is between Pullman and Palouse. It is an area in Eastern Washington near the border of Idaho. Kamiak Butte was named after the Chief Kamiakin of the Yakame tribe. It is the largest city in Lewis County though it also extends a small distance into Idaho. The area stands like an island occurring in the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse country. Kamiak Butte can be described as a physical island of rock which is above the fertile soils of Palouse.
Figure 1: A Photo showing Kamiak Butte and Palouse Hills (Source: Field observation)
Figure 2: Geologic Map of Kamiak Butte (Source: U.S. Geologic Survey, 2011)
The rocks found in this area indicate the dynamic crustal movement as well as climate change over long periods of geological time. The most common type of rocks in Kamiak Butte are the Belt Rocks. It is comprised of silts, clays and sands. As such it suggests a low and moderate-energy environment accumulated in a large basin or inland lake. These contain relatively extensive deposits which covers an area from Kamiak Butte into southern Canada and almost about the western border of Idaho east in Montana. It is stated that they can almost be approximately 18 mile thick. As such these are the basement rocks in this specific area. The next group of rocks in Kamiak Butte is the Columbia River Basalts (CRBs). These are rocks which are about 17-15 million years old. It represents one of the largest deposits of flood basalts in the entire globe. Essentially, the CRBs cover a larger part of central and eastern Washington, northern Oregon as well as the western fringe of Idaho. Primarily, the CRBs illustrate an extensive episode of volcanic activity. However, these basalts were not blown outstandingly from a volcano. The Kamiak Butte also has older Tertiary volcanic rocks surrounded by Miocene lava flows of the River Basalt Group, Columbia (Geology of the Western Idaho Ultramafic Belt). Additinally, the Kamiak Butte volcanic consists of an upper andesite unit that is about, 1000 feet thick and lies on the lower quartz latite unit occurring 300 feet thick. The andesites occurring at the upper unit relatively resemble the basalts and to some extent could be confused in the field. At the same time, the latites of the units at the lower part are distinctive.
The open-textured rocks range from moderately vesicular to coriaceous as well as some exhibit several slaggy structures. The andesite of Kamiak Butte is mostly gray and vesicular with others being red. Similarly, some rocks show the flow of structures that does not illustrate flow structures that might not be apparent in hand specimen but pronounced in thin section. Most of the andesite comprise of dense, aphanitic, holocrystalline rock containing 5 to 20% plagioclase phenocrysts to 2 millimeters long. On the other hand, some rocks consist of fresh pyroxene phenocrysts to I millimeter long (Albion Quadrangle p.23). The fresh, dense rock found Kamiak Butte tends to be olive gray or dark gray. Some of the rocks found in this area are mottled with thin, lenticular gray zone. The platy to dense, massive rocks possibly formed at bottom and flow tops of the internal inconsistency. The slaggy rocks usually made of partially rounded clasts approximately an inch across.
The geological history of the Kiamiah Butte is just the same as that of Idaho, between Lewiston and Moscow. The last major geological unit found within this region was deposited during Pleinstocene which is dated back to about 2 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. Thus, these are the Loess deposits which are described as windblown silt. The Palouse Hills are huge giant silt dunes. The picturesque and peculiar silt dunes characterized by the Palouse Prairie which is postulated to have been formed during the ice ages. Blown in right from the glacial plains to the south and west, the Palouse hills comprise of more or less random hallows and humps. The steepest slopes, which reaches about 50% slope, face the northeast. More importantly, the high productive loess can be viewed to range from 5 to 130cm deep. Furthermore, the geology of Kamiak Butte leads to moderate to rapid moisture infiltration. Slopes appear steep to moderate; nevertheless, headwater features of the watersheds result in a high magnitude of infiltration contrary to a propensity for overland flow. Therefore, sediment delivery efficiency of the third to first order streams is fairly low. The bedrock of Kamiak Butteis typically moderately and well fractured soft.
The climate of Kamiak Butte is a dry sub-humid climate. The climate of this region is classified as a dry continental that is; dry warm summers with a comparatively cool and temperate moist forest bio zone. The soils found in the area a is relatively high in kastanozems, calcareous soils rich in organic matter. July is the warmest month with an average of 81.5oF at noon. On the other hand, January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 21.2oF at night. In addition, Kamiak Butte has distinct warm and cold summers with temperatures droping sharply at night. It is paramount to note that the variations between day and night tend to be relatively large during summer with a difference of around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is a variety of surface water within the area of study. This includes; rivers, wetlands, streams, wells, spring among other water surfaces. Water surfaces are always a relatively paramount resource. Nevertheless, most of the water surfaces appear to be polluted. Kamiak Butte has a number or rivers used by various industries, and the use of water is quite high. Kamiak Butteis not a water deficient area; it has a lot of water within its jurisdiction. Spokane River is the biggest river in Kamiak Butte and serves a large proportion of the population. Water pollution is one of the common problems impacting on water surfaces within Kamiak Butte. Most pollution result from industrial effluents, domestic discharges, pollution due to soil erosion. The fact that most parts of Kamiak Butte sloppy means that there is much of water runoff, thus increasing water and soil pollution.
Water use and supply in Kamiak Butte is well developed in some areas, whereas some parts do not have a sufficient water supply. Economically, when an area is supplied with enough water, then that area is near to achieving the entire goals of getting an adequate supply of water. It is important to note that most households in the study area are supplied with piped water. Water is relatively utilized well in Kamiak Butte. As such, water is used for household uses, industrial uses, and it is also used for farming as irrigation is done in the lower parts of Kamiak Butte. To mitigate water pollution and ensure that water is effectively utilized in the study area, Kamiak Butte established a water supply body. This water supply service is mandated with the role of guaranteeing water equitable water supply within the Kamiak Butte as well as its surrounding areas. In addition, KamiaK Butte water supply services have the task of educating and training the residents of this area to use water efficiently without causing any pollution.
Influence of geology on human within Kamiak Butte
Geology is comparatively important for all humans. To start with, the impact of geology on humans is depicted to be one-sided. Civilization in Kamiak Butte and its environments can influence its geology. For instance, some types of developments and constructions in the area can stimulate erosion and soil deposition. Additionally, there are some of the farming techniques that contribute to soils erosion as well as causing deposits in most water surfaces. Indeed, this affects the geology in a negative way.
Natural hazards occur when the earth's physical tectonic plates move. Seismic occurrences such as tsunamis and earthquakes are the result of tectonic movements. In this respect, geology tremendously impacts on civilization. This is hazardous especially when an area is not prepared for disaster; hence it can claim several lives and severe destruction. Kamiak Butte has put in place some mitigation and disaster preparedness measures to help during disasters from natural hazards.
Terrain and Landscape
Terrain and Landscape determine human activities. Various activities such as farming and housing are comparatively dependent on the terrain of the land. Most parts of Kamiak Butteis suitable for agriculture and developments. Therefore, the landscape and terrain of an area can dictate the human activities to be done within that particular region.
Furthermore, the geology of a given area is described by the composition of the earth's crust at that region. Therefore, it determines the resources available to the people living in that area. Geology can impact on populations, even though, the resources are not immediate. In essence, when a resource is valuable, then it positively affects the economy. Kamiak Butte Tourists are attracted to various geographical features. In that connection, the entire act of tourism leads economic improvement. Kamiak Butte County Park is one of the popular tourist sites within Washington. Geology is one of the tourism attraction sites; the beautiful natural scenery such as mountains and volcanic rocks attract a large proportion of people. Thus, geology is relatively an important part of the earth. Indeed, the earth is not complete without geology, perhaps it significantly affects the way people work and live.
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Albion Quadrangle, Washington-Whitman Co: 7.5 Minute Series (topographic). Denver N.p., n.d. Print.
Marginal Environmental Impact Statement, Proposed T.v. Transmitter Project by Washington State University at Kamiak Butte, Washington. Washington: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, 1974. Print.