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    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

Stillaguamish is flowing again.

Dan McShane has been keeping an eye on the river gage on the Stilliguamish below the landslide. His latest post shows that the river is no longer backing up behind the landslide dam. Dan includes a graph from the river gage. I’ve copied his screen capture below- click to enlarge. You can see that discharge [= flow measured in cubic feet per second] dropped instantaneously just after noon on 3/22, from 2000 cfs to 900, and continued to decline down to 700 cfs until Sunday at around 3 PM.  Then the level of the impounded river had risen enough to begin overtopping the low point on the slide surface and began to flow downstream again. The last data point on the graph is from Monday at about 6 PM, and flow seems to have stabilized. You can track the discharge yourself at the gage website.

Stilliguamish gage data. Click to enlarge.

Stilliguamish gage data. Click to enlarge.

More on Middle Fork Nooksack debris flow

By Dave Tucker  June 7, 2013

Photo by John Scurlock. Explanation on the link to today's MBVRC blog post.

Photo by John Scurlock. Explanation on the link to today’s MBVRC blog post.

The source of the debris flow in the Middle Fork Nooksack River is now believed to be a large landslide rather than a glacial outburst flood. This is based on new aerial photos provided by John Scurlock and Steph Abegg. The updated post is on the MBVRC blog.

There is video I made when I visited the deposits two days ago. See it here on YouTube. Shows the extent of the debris flow deposit at the Ridley Creek ford.

And another YouTube video shows a volcanic debris flow [a.k.a. ‘lahar’] raging down a valley in Indonesia. It is probably similar to the Middle Fork flow, except considerably smaller.

There will be another visit to the deposit Sunday AM early by a geologic team to begin serious study of the deposits and to try to begin estimating volume, velocity and other parameters of the May 31 debris flow. There will probably be an update posted on the MBVRC blog, so if you don’t already subscribe to it, consider doing so.

Glacial Outburst Flood in Middle Fork Nooksack- May 31, 2013


The 'hihg-mud mark' from the glacial outburst flood and debris flow is 20 feet above Bob's head. Click to enlarge.

The ‘high-mud mark’ from the glacial outburst flood and debris flow is 20 feet above Bob’s head. Click to enlarge.

A large flood of sediment and water swept the upper channel of the Middle Fork Nooksack River early in the morning of Friday, May 31. Boulders up to 10′ across were pitched onto a terrace 15′ above water level, and the river channel was buried in mud. A seismometer on Mount Baker picked up the tremor of the debris flow, and the sudden increase in river volume was detected on the stream gage at Nugent’s Corner, 25 miles away, a couple of hours later. The river is still very turbid. A report with photos is posted on the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center blog:



New Missoula flood guidebook published.

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: The Northern Reaches, by Bruce Bjornstad and Gene Kiver, is now published. The book directs readers to field sites in the the Channeled Scablands and into northern Idaho to see evidence for the mind-boggling late-Pleistocene Missoula Floods. There are hikes, road trips, and even two aerial field trips.  The book is a sequel to On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A geological field guide to the Mid-Columbia Basin by Bruce Bjornstad. A description of the new book is available at the publishers’ website:
It will take a while for the book to be distributed to all the retail outlets but for those wanting it right away, it can be obtained from the Sandpoint Online General Store at: http://www.sandpointonline.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=228

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. ‘

Slides close Chuckanut Drive; high water on Chuckanut Creek (video)

Chuckanut landslides

The small rockfall about 1 mile south of Clayton Beach Trailhead, Dec 12, 2010. Pretty dinky, but potential for plenty more in this weather. Click to enlarge

The annual round of landslides has begun along Chuckanut Drive (Washington Highway 11). The road was closed yesterday evening  due to the first rockfall of the season. I just returned from an effort to get photos.

The road is closed to southbound traffic 1/2 mile south of the Clayton Beach trailhead; the rockfall I saw is about another 1/2 mile further south. I found a small pile of rocks across the road at about mile post 13.5. It is not by any means an impressive slide, but there is a report of another one further south. I couldn’t verify that. No sign of clean up efforts yet. I didn’t tarry- there were a number of head-sized rocks on the road behind me, and I didn’t want to become a headline. Quick photos and I was gone. A story I wrote last year about the geology behind these annual events is posted here.

An understatement on Chuckanut Drive.

Chuckanut Creek

Water is high and muddy in Chuckanut Creek as it races through Arroyo Park at the southern edge of Bellingham. Worth a look-see if you are wanting an excuse to get out on this wet day. The stream gage at the footbridge says 3.5 feet. This is not by any means an epic flood, the water is not even over the trail (yet) but fun nonetheless. The high water ought to flush the last of the stinking fish carcasses out of the creek, at least. A video I took of high water in the creek is posted here on YouTube.

Chuckanut Creek is boiling and muddy at the Arroyo Park footbridge.