Willamette River Historical Stream Channels

May 5, 2013

Willamette river mapBelow is a glorious map of the Willamette River, a river that flows south to north in western Oregon, east of the Cascades, before emptying into the east to west flowing Columbia River. To the right is a conventional map of the river.

Now DOGAMI, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Resources provides us with this lidar-derived digital elevation model. Lidar is  “an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of, targets by illuminating the target with laser light and analyzing the backscattered light.” A fuller description of the model follows the image.

Willamette Stream Channels

Willamette River Historical Stream Channels, Oregon, 17 x 38 inches, by Daniel E. Coe, $15. Order poster from Nature of the Northwest

This lidar-derived digital elevation model of the Willamette River displays a 50-foot elevation range, from low elevations (displayed in white) fading to higher elevations (displayed in dark blue). This visually replaces the relatively flat landscape of the valley floor with vivid historical channels, showing the dynamic movements the river has made in recent millennia. This segment of the Willamette River flows past Albany near the bottom of the image northward to the communities of Monmouth and Independence at the top. Near the center, the Luckiamute River flows into the Willamette from the left, and the Santiam River flows in from the right. Lidar imagery by Daniel E. Coe.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) has been collecting lidar data in Oregon since 2006. The goal is to cover the entire state as funding for data collection becomes available. You can learn more about lidar and view lidar images of other parts of Oregon at http://www.OregonGeology.org.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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