Photo needed for my book: Blue Lake, near Washington Pass

8566 copyDoes anyone have a high resolution photo of Blue Lake, near Washington Pass? I’m on the quest for what I hope is the final missing image for Geology Underfoot in Western Washington. If you can provide me with a jpg or tiff, at least 1 MB, drop me a note.  tuckerd   @  geol  . wwu.    edu.

The image should be from the north end of the lake, where the trail reaches it, and look along the length of the lake to the rock cliffs on the far side. A photo from the bluffs to either side of the north end of the lake, showing the lake and cliffs, would also be fine. The photo would do but it doesn’t show the peaks above the lake. Blue Lake is the final field trip stop in the chapter that discusses the rise of granite magma through the crust. I’d give you credit in the caption.

Call for citizen vounteers: Nooksack delta and Bellingham Bay

An opportunity for citiizen volunteers to assist with USGS river and storm surge monitoring

From Eric E. Grossman, PhD, Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey


As part of our USGS Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound Project and WWU Coastal Resilience Project, we actively measure river floods and storm surge/wave impacts. We have witnessed some extreme flooding, inundation and erosion the last few storms and need help.

Volunteers are requested to help:

1) measure river flow and its partitioning through delta distributaries using fancy Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers

2) sample for suspended and bed load sediment

3) map bedforms and changes in channel morphology/aggradation

4) measure maximum runup and inundation following floods/storms with RTK-GPS

5) Deploy instrument packages that continuously measure water levels (tides), waves, currents, suspended sediment flux and water temperature/salinity.

This work is ongoing with a big push during the winter months. If anyone is available periodically for full or half-day outings please contact Eric Grossman – USGS/WWU Geologist (831-234-4674 or 360-650-4697) and/or Christopher Curran – Hydrologist, USGS, 253-380-7409). If anyone is around during the Holidays and interested in exciting field days, please let us know.

Thanks and have fun and safe Holidays,

Eric E. Grossman
Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
USGS Western Fisheries Research Center, 6505 NE 65th St., Seattle, WA 98115; 206-526-6282×334 (office), 831-234-4674 (cell)

Affiliate Researcher, Western Washington University
Dept. of Geology, 516 High St., MS 9080
Bellingham, WA, 98225; 360-650-4697

Washington interactive geology map

I get a lot of emails asking about on-line geologic maps. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has a great resource. It is the Washington Interactive Geology Map. It allows you to select map scales, map background (topographic? street map? terrain?) and the type of geology you are interested in (faults? surface geology? tsunami inundation zones? landslide? volcanic vents?). You can play with scales and move around on a map of the entire state. The portal is here, which connects you to several interactive maps:

If you choose the Interactive geology map, you end up here:

The menu lets you select lots of features to turn on or off. You have to play with it a bit to get it really

screen capture of a portion of the interactive geology map.

screen capture of a portion of the interactive geology map. Click to enlarge.

figured out, but it isn’t difficult. The figure above shows the screen set for western Whatcom County. In this menu I selected ‘surface geology’, 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scale geologic map overlays. 1:24,000 scale maps are only available for some areas, and show up in the image as an area with denser information; an example is in the center, and lower left. You can zoom in on those for more detailed geology. You can turn text labels for geologic units on or off to reduce clutter. The more data you request, the slower the system is to load. I also clicked the box for ‘seismogenic features’, which turned on the blue dashed diagonal faults on the left edge of the screen.

Interactive map showing mapped faults in wesern Whatcom County.

Interactive map showing mapped faults in wesern Whatcom County. Click to enlarge.

This figure shows a much simplified view of seismogenic features only, in the same area. There are several fault strands in the Kendall area at center, as well as the same three faults between Gooseberry Point and Blaine. All the other information is turned off for clarity.

REQUEST TO READERS. If you experiment with any of the other interactive maps on the portal page (tsunami inundation zones, coal mine inventory map, natural hazards, seismic scenarios, etc. please consider writing a comment below about how useful you found it.

Ape Caves Meatball- do you have a photo?

The Meatball is a basalt boulder wedged between the walls of Ape Cave. Photo by Gene Kever.

The Meatball is a basalt boulder wedged between the walls of Ape Cave. Photo by Gene Kiver.

My friend and fellow geology writer Gene Kiver is looking for a high resolution photo of the famous ‘Meatball’ in Ape Cave for his book, Washington Rocks!. If you have a photo, please send it to Gene directly:

froghollow   at     sisna     dot    com.

Gene has a photo (at left) but it is dark and out of focus. He needs one that is sharp, and that has something or someone for scale.

Washington Rocks! is in a series by Mountain Press Publishing (the same outfit that will publish Geology Underfoot in Western Washington). However, the ‘Rocks!’ books are much shorter and have only brief descriptions of cool geologic sites.

The last photo for Geology Underfoot in Western Washington

I was missing a photo for  my book, Geology Underfoot in Western Washington. Deadline for the final revision was in two days. In one vignette (that is Mountain Press Publishing-ese for ‘chapter’) I describe the Osceola Mudflow, the huge Mount Rainier lahar that swept into the Puget Lowland 5700 years ago. I needed a photo to illustrate the Osceola exposure at the last field stop in the White River valley on the east side of Mount Rainier. I couldn’t use just any old lahar photo, though. It had to be on location, a place I knew about from Pat Pringle, author of Roadside Geology of Mount Rainier National Park and Vicinity. (Which you all own, right? Right?)

When I left Bellingham last Sunday, December 7, I knew the White River Road was closed for the winter. My friend Scott Linneman and I loaded mountain bikes on my car Dusty’s rack and headed south at 6 AM. One hundred and eighty miles farther, we reached the gate across Washington 410 at the turn off to Crystal Mountain Ski Area. This was a bit further away from the Sunrise Road junction than I had anticipated, So we rode up hill on the absolutely deserted state highway for 4.3 miles to the turnoff. It was just above freezing but sunny- not that we saw much of the sun through the trees. After grunting up the road, we rode up the paved Sunrise Road, following the White River toward Mount Rainier. Well before we got to the destination at the bridge over Fryingpan Creek, the road became covered with ice, first black ice from snow melt, then with centimeter-thick crust of snow on ice. Made for some, er, interesting riding. At one point, I literally slid sideways on a nearly imperceptibly banked section. But we made it, a total of 8.5 miles on the bikes from the car. By then there was snow covering all the north-facing road cuts, and much of the south-facing ones. I knew the exposure in the road cut I wanted to photograph faced south, so I didn’t panic (too much) as the snow became more continuous.

Figure 9.13 stop 3

Scott Linneman is awestruck at this jaw-dropping exposure of the Osceola Mudflow; this will be a field stop in geology Underfoot in Western Washington.

But- where is it? That can’t be it. Can it? That partially snow-covered nondescript dirt bank with some trees growing out of it? Comparing the place with the one in Pat’s book, we reluctantly agreed that it was. Same boulders. His photo shows a pinkish matrix of clay and sand with some boulders. And a young woman for scale. We saw no young woman. We saw no pink, just dark brown frozen clay with a carpet of hemlock needles. “Well, that’s just no good!” I groused. We walked across the Fryingpan Creek bridge and found some other exposures of the Osceola, but even less appealing. We walked 1/10 mile out the Wonderland Trail thinking maybe something out there. Nope, just snow trees. I mean, what do you really expect in the woods at 3800′ in December? So, back to the original exposure. Brush off some needles. Look more closely. Maybe the flash will help the photo. Then, I waxed philosophical. Lahar deposits are poorly suited for good geologic exposures. They are easily eroded, and are good substrate for trees and bushes. The only ones I know of are in stream cutbanks and road cuts, relatively freshly exposed. So of course I can’t really expect a stunning photo of such a deposit. And lahar deposits by their very nature are unprepossessing just mud, sand and rocks. I could include the unimpressive lahar photo after all and explain why they are so hard to find. So, took a number of photos, and headed back. Another 8.5 miles to the car. But the final part of that was a fast down Washington 410 for over 4 miles on very smooth pavement. Made it all worthwhile. And the sun was shining. And only 180 miles to go to get back home.

Lahar deposit detail at Stop 3 in Vignette 9 of Geology Underfoot in Western Washington.

Lahar deposit detail at Stop 3 in Vignette 9 of Geology Underfoot in Western Washington.

10 hours, 360 miles driving, 17 miles on bikes. One photo for the book. Special thanks to Professor Scott Linneman for his patience, enthusiasm and great company.

New book: Geology of the San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands geologist Ned Brown brings us a wonderful new geology guide- just in time for holiday gifts.

Ned Brown's Geology of the San Juan Islands. Chuckanut Editions, 2014

Ned Brown’s Geology of the San Juan Islands. Chuckanut Editions, 2014

Geology of the San Juan Islands is a full color guide to the geology of these beautiful islands. The book is written for the geophile of all stripes. It is the best, easiest-to-understand explanation of San Juan geology I have seen, and I urge you to spend $19 and get your own copy right now.

Ned Brown is an emeritus professor in the Western Washington University Geology Department. He has been working in the islands for decades. The complex geology of the archipelago has long inspired and exasperated geologists. Ned’s book describes the remarkable tectonic history that has repeatedly brought together unrelated rocks from around the Pacific and stacked them against each other during subduction. His color photos and detailed diagrams explain the processes and evolution of each of the rock units clearly. The book also explains how he and others have come up with this most current interpretation of San Juan Islands geologic history, by mapping rock units and faults, dating zircon crystals in the rocks, identifying fossils and correlating these with the ancient areas where these creatures lived.  Ned tells you just where to go to see the best outcrops, including all the photo locations. Among the more amazing ideas he throws out is the possible origin of the oldest rocks in the  350- to 500-million year old Turtleback Complex on Orcas Island. The gabbro and granitic rocks, once intruded deep in the crust,  may have originally intruded deep in the crust….in northern Europe! This was during the time of the supercontinent Rodinia.

The book is self-published through the Chuckanut Editions imprint of Village Books in Bellingham. The book is not yet available. Go buy a copy in the store, or write Village Books and ask them to please make the book available for on-line orders.Dave Tucker


Book chapter title: Thanks for all your ideas!

A blizzard of your serious, and funny, suggestions for the Geology Underfoot in Western Washington chapter about golden Horn granite at Washington Pass. If you have an idea and haven’t contributed yet, get going! I will be sending my final revisions to the editor on December 1 to begin the publication process.

Thanks to all!



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