Behind the Stories

It’s been a long time coming.

By Bruce Reichert
February 21, 2012


The Stadium of the Gods near the Super Gully in the Lost River Range  Photo by Dave Pahlas

Welcome to "Idaho Geology, a Convergence of Wonders," an hour-long show devoted entirely to a comprehensive exploration of Idaho's crazy geology.

Bill Bonnichsen and Marty Godchaux at Craters of the MoonFor my money, it's the most complex show we've ever attempted. I say that not just because I find the topic to be intimidating. But, as I look at the dozens and dozens of tapes that director/editor Pat Metzler is digitizing into our Avid editing machine at low resolution (so as not to choke the computer), I'm convinced that no one else in his right mind would even attempt such a project.

Our tapes go as far back as the explosion of Mt. St. Helen's in 1980 and the Borah earthquake of 1983. And they include the aerial helicopter footage that colleagues Jeff Tucker and John Crancer brought back a few months ago; not to mention the footage we shot just this past week, of Blue Heart Springs near Hagerman and of Black Magic Canyon near Shoshone. These last two excursions alone prove that Idaho holds surprises for even those who think they know their state!

Since the days of Lewis and Clark, Idaho's geology has inspired and frustrated every generation. Luckily, we have geologists Bill Bonnichsen and Marty Godchaux, to walk us through the complexities of the topic. Bill is world-renowned when it comes to understanding the Snake River plain. And his wife Marty is a volcanologist of the first order.

We interviewed them for three days straight in various locations, like Craters of the Moon and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and asked them every conceivable question we could think of relating to Idaho's geology.


Kayaker at Succor Creek  Photo by Andrew ElkinsIt may surprise you to learn that two of the world's greatest floods occurred here in Idaho; that there is a huge difference between the mountains of central Idaho's batholith and those of the Basin and Range province; and that the ancient volcanoes of the Snake River plain share a lineage with what is happening today at Kilauea in Hawaii.

"I can't think of another state that has anything better than we have here," stated geologist Marty Godchaux; and I wholeheartedly agree.

But we didn't just leave it to the geologists to tell the story. We also met up with hardy recreationists on the back side of Bruneau Dunes for some sand skiing. We dropped into Class V water with adventurous kayakers at Succor Creek; and we filmed rafts flipping at high water at Lochsa Falls. We met up with two of Idaho's world-class climbers at City of Rocks. And we took scuba gear into delightful Blue Heart Springs near Hagerman.

More than anything, we wanted to make "Idaho Geology" accessible to every Idahoan, from the highly educated to those just learning about how their world works.

The website for this production is one of our best ever. We have a section called "My Private Idaho," featuring our Outdoor Idaho Facebook photographer friends; and we have sections featuring some original work by geologists Bill Bonnichsen and Marty Godchaux, including a section on their favorite Idaho rocks.

Blue Heart Springs near Hagerman by Tim Tower

Through this entire project, we have attempted to explore the forces that unite us, and divide us, and bind us together as a state. That's a tall order. And even though this show has been incredibly time-consuming, we realize we've only scratched the surface of this remarkable state.

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