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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
    Northwest Geology Field Trips, by Dave Tucker, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 United States License. You can use what you find here, repost it with attribution to the author, "remix" it for your own purposes, but may not use it with the intent of making money off of it.

    EDUCATORS: Please feel free to use anything you find here that is useful to your mission educating people about Earth science. E-mail me if it would help to have a larger or higher-resolution version of any of the images. tuckerd at geol dot wwu dot edu

King Tide photos

Photos from the 2011 king tides are posted on the Washington Department of Ecology’s King Tide photostream (Flickr). Photos from last January are included. You can search for photos taken in a particular place, such as ‘Bellingham’ or “Marine Park’. Several photos were submitted by subscribers to Northwest Geology Field Trips. These photos of high tide levels will serve as baseline comparisons as sea levels rise during climate change.

The next king tides will be later this month. Go to this map to see when these tides will occur- timing is different across the region.

King Tides – request for photo documentation

January 23, 2011 - 9.6' king tide at the mouth of Whatcom Creek, Bellingham. December 2011 kings will be the same height.

Washington State Department of Ecology is asking citizens to submit photos taken at high tide during the upcoming ‘King Tides’ – the winter highs. The system used last year appears to have been improved and simplified. Use the DOE’s time table to determine the times and dates. The idea is to document high water now, which will serve as a reference baseline as climate change raises sea level. If the weather is blustery, tides may be even higher as winds pile water against shorelines.

Go to the Department of Ecology’s King Tide website for instructions. Find when to take your photos, and come up with a good site you would like to document at the time of highest tides. Take the photos, and then upload them to the King Tide Photo Initiative Flickr Group (photo storage and display) page. If you visit the Flickr page, you can search for specific locations to see where photos were taken last winter during this event. The most practical sites are those that have ‘improvements’, or where something is in the works, vs a wilderness or undeveloped shoreline.

Geotagging photos

Last year, many people could not upload there photos because they had not been geo-tagged [assigned coordinates using GPS], or the Flickr website did not recognize tagged photos and rejected them. An example is the one above. A new system is in place this year which may fix this problem, by allowing you to drag your uploaded photo to the proper location on a map on the Flickr site. Note- you must have, or make, a Flickr, Google, or Yahoo account to do this. Full instructions are on the King Tide website. They say this:

“3.Add your photos to this group! Watch these great tutorials created by British Columbia to learn how to upload photos to Flickr, how to “geotag” them (identify where the photo was taken using Flickr’s map) and how to add them to a Flickr group. ‘

Port Townsend-area geology group joins umbrella non-profit

Quimper Geology Group joins Jefferson Land Trust

The Quimper peninsula, Jefferson County, Washington, separates two deep bays: Port Townsend, off Admiralty Inlet, and Discovery Bay, off the Straits. The peninsula includes the sweet town of Port Townsend.

Jefferson Land Trust (JLT) is pleased to join with the Quimper Geology Group (QGG) who will now be a part of JLT. The two groups have come together because they share an appreciation of our natural world. The Geology Group’s goal is to broaden citizen’s awareness of geology, geologic issues, understanding of the land we share, and land conservation, one of JLT’s primary missions. The Jefferson Land Trust Geology Group (JLTGG), as it will be known, facilitates public lectures on geology and associated subjects, typically every other month. During the summer, the group conducts local field trips to learn, first-hand, about local and regional geology. JLTGG has an informal membership of about 150 Quimper Peninsula residents. Lectures are generally free, although donations are accepted to offset meeting costs.

Their next event will be a discussion of the Geology of Mount Baker by Dave Tucker (WWU) on Sat. Jan. 14, 2012. The talk by Ray Wells (USGS) at the last get together drew a very large crowd.

Information about the geology group’s activities will be listed at the JLT website www.saveland.org. To be on the email list to receive notices of lectures and field trips, please contact Michael Machette (JLTGG program director) at this cleverly disguised email address:         geomorph08 at earthlink.net.

How to trust science reporting: Is it peer reviewed? How about stuff on this blog?

The WWU Geology Department has posted a policy statement on science publishing. The department’s stated position says:

“The Geology Faculty at WWU believes that all science must be subjected to rigorous peer review and publication before it becomes worthy of serious discussion. We do not support publication of non-peer-reviewed scientific results in the general media. A brief guide to peer review is available at Sense About Science.”

The linked guide is titled “I Don’t Know What to Believe”. The article is about how to make sense of science reporting, whether in the popular media or on scientific websites (or places purporting to be ‘scientific’, such as creationist and global warming denialist sites). The article explains how peer review works.

The guide touches very briefly on abstracts submitted to scientific conferences. These are generally NOT peer-reviewed, although some aspects of the science reported in abstracts may have been reviewed. These are simply summaries of scientific investigation to date, and intended to initiate discussion with interested peers at the conference prior to writing a full journal submission. An abstract is NOT to be taken as a published paper. Anyone may submit an abstract to a conference; sometimes unscrupulous people then claim to the undiscerning public that they have ‘published a paper’.

A significant exception is any abstract submitted to a conference with even a single USGS scientist as a coauthor, regardless of where that person’s name occurs in the list of authors. This also applies to other ‘non-journal’ papers such as GSA, Northwest Geological Society, or any other organization’s field trip guides. All of the Mount Baker abstracts on which I am an author, for instance, have been reviewed by USGS scientists, as is the field guide to Mount Baker deposits in the Baker River valley published in the 2007 GSA field trip guide. For a list of these abstracts, scroll down on the abstract page at the MBVRC home page ; look for abstracts under “Tucker, D.S.” or “Scott, K.M.”, a USGS colleague co-authoring all my Baker work to date.

The  “I Don’t Know What to Believe” guide also a short comment about how peer-review journals are funded.

All the science I describe on this website has been, to some degree at least, peer-reviewed, and references are given at the end of each field trip. If there is no reference provided, then my text is a paraphrase of reviewed science. An exception would be the physical description of some very recent phenomenon. An example is the field trip up Silver Creek to see effects of the debris flows back in 2009. These trips are principally a report of observed events and deposits, rather than claiming to be some new scientific discovery.

While you are visiting the Geology Department’s “Position Statements” page, note that the faculty accept that human-induced climate change is a fact. This is in direct opposition to the outspoken views about ‘global cooling’ and statements about the ‘hoax of global warming’ made by Dr. D.J. Easterbrook (professor emeritus on the faculty). Dr. Easterbrook’s name is not specifically mentioned in the position statement.

My own policy on this website will be to clearly state what science appearing on my website has been peer-reviewed, what is simply my interpretation (or that of other scientists), and what is a general consensus in the geologic community.



True Granite- another cool erratic in Lake Stevens

The True Granite erratic is on NE 99th Avenue SE in Lake Stevens, Washington. Click to enlarge.

Craig Valvick and Matt McCourt told me about another erratic in Lake Stevens. This one is interesting and different because it is a true granite, with big pink orthoclase crystals and smoky-gray quartz. I call it the True Granite Erratic, and you can read about it, and the difference between granite and other granitic rocks such as granodiorite.

Click to go to the True Granite Erratic page.

Dave Tucker

UPDATE: Lake Stevens erratic. Largest in the USA?

A webpage has been added describing the huge Lake Stevens glacial erratic, which has been measured by Lake Stevens

The back side of the Lake Stevens erratic towers out of the woods. Bob Mooers photo. Click to enlarge

police officers Craig Valvick and Matt McCourt. We believe it is the largest erratic in the country, exceeding the unofficial record holder, the Madison Boulder in New Hampshire.

Go here to read about the Lake Stevens erratic.

Washington’s largest erratic ‘discovered’ in Lake Stevens ?

By Dave Tucker

The back side of the Lake Stevens erratic towers out of the woods. Bob Mooers photo. Click to enlarge

What must be among the largest glacial erratics in the US has been spotted in Lake Stevens. This hulking brute rivals if it does not surpass Waterman erratic (Whidbey Island), the reigning ‘Mother of All Erratics’ in the Northwest. The Lake Stevens erratic was brought to my attention by two Lake Stevens policemen, Craig Valvick and Matt McCourt. They have carefully taken an initial set of dimensions: it is 34 feet (10.36 m) tall and 78 feet (23.77 m) in length. The circumference is 210 feet (64 m). by contrast, the estimated dimensions of the Waterman erratic, as reported on this website, are 33 feet (10 m) high, and measures 60 feet on each side (18 m).

An expedition was made to examine the rock. I went down from Bellingham with Bob Mooers, and we met Craig and Matt there, as well as Donn Charnley, Barbara Magnuson, and Corinne Waters, all erratic fans from the Edmonds and Shoreline area. We determined that the rock is composed of greenstone, in places serpentinized. Greenstone is a low-grade, metamorphosed sea floor basalt. Another page on this website describes the rock in more detail, and compares it with the previous champion.

Getting there: The Lake Stevens erratic is in a tiny park, maintained by the people of the neighborhood. From I-5 in Everett, head east on US 2 for 2 miles. Take the 20th Street exit straight ahead (east) and go about a mile to  the stoplight at 83rd Ave, turn left (north) and take it almost to the cul de sac at the end, 1.3 mile north of 20th. The erratic is in the little park on the right before the end of the street. There is an informal trail around to the dark, looming east face, rising vertically for 34 feet.  47° 59.816’N 122° 6.954’ W  NAD 83

There are rock fragments lying on the ground on the east side, if you wish to examine a fresh rock surface. Please, NO HAMMERS!

Read more about erratics in general on this website, and find out where some other big ones lurk.

Detail photos reveal that the Duvall erratic is very gneiss.

Adena Mooers provided sharp detail photos of the Duvall erratic, revealing lovely gneissic banding. I have updated the webpage, including revised directions for getting there. See the photos and description here.

Gneissic banding in the Duvall erratic. Adena Mooers photo. Click to enlarge.

Another southern Jackass erratic sighting

Jackass conglomerate erratic tucked among logs on Camano Island. Photo courtesy Carl Johansen and Frank Alishio. Click to enlarge.

Website subscriber Carl Johansen sends these photos of erratics from the Jackass Formation conglomerate on the beach on the east shore of Camano Island. Unfortunately, the beach is private. Earlier this winter, I asked people to keep their eyes open for any of these distinctive erratics south or west of Whatcom County. This is relevant, as they have been associated only with the last gasp of Pleistocene glacier readvance (the Sumas advance) which barely reached Bellingham and was entirely on land- no glaciomarine component is recognized, so they didn’t flow to their current resting places in calved icebergs. The presence of these distinctive boulders to the south or west negates that theory, put forth by Dr. Don Easterbrook of WWU. Thanks to the reports sent to this website, it looks like these rocks can not be used to delineate the extent of the Sumas readvance.

I’m still hoping for photos of a reported Jackass erratic way down south in Des Moines.

Verified Jackass erratics. Red line marks approx terminus of Sumas readvance.

A smaller Jackass erratic, north of the first. Photo courtesy C. Johansen and F. Alishio.

Jackass conglomerate erratics on Orcas Island.

A Jackass on the beach.

Alert reader Michael Yeaman of Eastsound, Orcas Island, has sent photos of Jackass Group conglomerate erratics on lovely Crescent Beach, just east of Eastsound. Recall I sent out a call for citizen scientists to be on the lookout for these- read that request here. The idea is to show whether these erratics are strictly indicative of deposits of the final phase of the Fraser glaciation, the ‘Sumas’ readvance, or whether they came earlier, with the ‘Vashon’ advance. Michael’s photos show erratics are just like the one’s Adena sent (January 3) from near Port Townsend. It is clear from the photos received so far that the latter must be correct, as Port Townsend and Orcas Island are well beyond the maximum extent of Sumas ice. I have heard from a couple of other readers, that there are suspected Jackass erratics further south. If you have a photo and location, please send it in.

No doubt, this is Jackass conglomerate, from BC, carried by ice to Orcas Island.

Cheers, Dave

Crescent Beach and Eastsound, Orcas Island. Click to enlarge. Google Earth image capture.