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  • MOUNT BAKER: Eruptive history, hazards, research.

    Visit Mount Baker Volcano Research Center websites Main website and the blog These are no longer actively maintained but are still good references [DT, April, 2020]
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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

Guided geology field trip by Dave Tucker: Baker River trail June 8th

Dear friends,

An alluvial fan is perfectly exposed in cross section along the Baker River trail.

An alluvial fan is perfectly exposed in cross-section along the Baker River trail.

Mount Baker Volcano Research Center is offering a field trip up the Baker River on June 8th. It is a fundraiser for the non-profit, and I’ll be leading it, along with Doug McKeever (Whatcom Community College) and Sue Madsen (Skagit Fisheries Enhancement).

Highlights include:

  • Shuksan greenschist (metamorphosed subducted seafloor basalt) which is the local bedrock;
  • new salmon restoration facilities;
  • an active alluvial fan;
  • river erosion and deposition;
  • a great variety of rocks in river bars;
  • rock slides;
  • a fantastic ‘faerie forest’ of lichen-draped maples.
  • If the weather be good- fabulous views into the heart of the North Cascades.

Cost is $75, includes van transport and a trip guide.

For info and registration, go to:

http://mbvrc.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/mbvrc-geology-field-trip-june-8th-geo-potpourri-plus-salmon-ecology/

An unnamed waterfall plummets hundreds of feet over a wall of metamorphic bedrock along the trail. Click to enlarge any photo.

An unnamed waterfall plummets hundreds of feet over a wall of metamorphic bedrock along the trail. Click to enlarge any photo.

Geology field trips offered by North Cascades Institute

I will be leading three field courses on behalf of North Cascades Institute in late summer of 2013.Also, my friend David Williams will lead an urban geology tour in Seattle.

Migmatite in the Diablo Overlook road cut? What's 'maigmatite'? Sign up to find out!

Migmatite in the Diablo Overlook road cut. What’s ‘migmatite’? Sign up to find out!

August 9-11: GEOLOGY OF THE NORTH CASCADES: CROSS SECTION THROUGH THE CRUST. This course will be based out of the NCI Environmental Learning Center at Diablo Lake. Over three days we will examine different sites along Highway 20 from Sedro Woolley to Washington Pass. Meals and lodging at the Learning Center.

Kuslhan caldera, Mount Baker, and Table Mountain volcanics can all be examined along the Ptarmigan Trail.

Kulshan caldera, Mount Baker, and Table Mountain volcanics can all be examined along the Ptarmigan Trail.

September 28 and repeated on September 29: MOUNT BAKER: THE STORY OF VOLCANOES I AND II. I will lead a one day hike along Ptarmigan Ridge on the east flank of Mount Baker.We will look at volcanic deposits from the Kulshan caldera, pre-Mount Baker andesite volcanoes, and young Baker itself. These two hikes will fill up VERY QUICKLY so register right now if you are interested.

In downtown Seattle, see 3.5 billion year old Morton gneiss, probably the oldest building stone in the world!

In downtown Seattle, see 3.5 billion year old Morton gneiss, probably the oldest building stone in the world!

Also on September 28, David Williams leads ‘Street Smart Naturalist’. This will be a walking tour of downtown geology. highly regarded and a must for Seattle residents interested in geology.

Registration and descriptions for all these programs begins at the NCI geology webpage.

Mount Baker presentation Thursday in Mount Vernon

Mount Baker Volcano Research Center presents a free talk on Mount Baker Eruptive History and Hazards in Mount Vernon this Thursday, January 31. The presenter will be Dave Tucker.

Skagit Valley College, Phillip Tarro Auditorium

Doors open at 6:30, talk begins at 7. All ages. These popular talks often are SRO, so get there early.

The talk is sponsored by Skagit-Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club and Skagit Valley College Center for Learning and Teaching.

200,000 hit milepost reached; New page about uplift.

Migmatite at Diablo Overlook, Highway 20. This is a mix of metamorphic gneiss and intruding igneous dikes. My frien d Klayton for scale, lower left. Photo copyright Dave Tucker

Migmatite at Diablo Overlook, Highway 20. This is a mix of metamorphic gneiss and intruding igneous dikes. My friend Klayton for scale, lower left. Photo copyright Dave Tucker

This website reached 200,000 hits on the afternoon of January 10th. The article on quartzite did it. To celebrate, I dusted off an old draft and have posted it. This one is in the ‘Geology Basics’ section, and is about how rocks deep in the crust are uplifted to reach the surface. It is an excerpt from a chapter in the book, Geology Underfoot in Western Washington that deals with the Skagit Gneiss, which was at one time as much as 18 miles (30 km) deep in the crust. Read it here.

Fragrance Lake addendum: Where quartzite in the till comes from

Broken surface of quartzite.

Broken surface of quartzite.

I’ve been asked about the source for the quartzite clasts in Puget Lowland glacial till. They are diagnostic of a British Columbian provenance for the Puget Lobe of the Vashon advance, and the great glaciations that preceeded that one. Go to the quartzite page, where I discuss the source for these pebbles, and attempt to confuse everyone because there are two kinds of quartzite.

Pillows in the Middle Fork Nooksack

Stacked pillows. Stolen from a commercial website. So, sue me.

Stacked pillows. Stolen from a commercial website. So, sue me.

(Click HERE to go straight to the page about the pillows along the road.)

No, pillow lava, silly!

Cross-sectioned basalt lava pillow in the Elbow Lake Formation, Middle Fork Nooksack Road. Click to enlarge.

Cross-sectioned basalt lava pillow in the Elbow Lake Formation, Middle Fork Nooksack Road. Click to enlarge.

I planned a XC ski trip up the Porter Creek Road or elsewhere off the Middle Fork Road today, but it was raining and 41 degrees. Indulging my secret identity as a geologist, I instead poked around in a roadside quarry, looking at pillow lava in the Elbow Lake Formation. A rewarding outing from Bellingham if you have a 2-3 hours on your hands and a deeply felt need to look at some exotic, unusual, and (admittedly) not too beautiful rocks. The saving grace is the lava pillows, and a cup of coffee on the way and on the way back. As an added bonus, there is access to Twin Sisters dunite nearby.

P.S. There ARE some nice roads to ski up and back down off the Middle Fork.

Geology guide to Fragrance Lake Trail (Larrabee State Park)

The Christmas Girls had just finished decorating all the sign posts as I pulled into the parking lot. Very festive! Click to enlarge.

The Christmas Girls had just finished decorating all the sign posts as I pulled into the parking lot. Very festive! Click to enlarge.

I’ve written up a geology guide to the popular Fragrance Lake trail. You’ll find it here. Even if the hike is mostly in glacial till, there are interesting stones in it, and the Chuckanut cliffs are always worth a peak. I do some armwaving about the origin of the big cliffs above the lake, too.

New glacier comparison photo: Boulder Glacier, Mount Baker: 1892-2012

Hassan Basagic, a glacier researcher at Portland State University, has been making a series of comparative photos showing glacial changes in the Cascades. He came across the Loomis-Baker comparison photos taken by E.D. Welsh (1912) and John Scurlock (2012) and posted on the MBVRC website a couple of months ago. Hassan sent the photo below, showing the Boulder Glacier (left side) and Park Glacier (on the right) from 4640′ on Boulder Ridge, which extends eastward from Mount Baker between Boulder and Park Creeks. The upper photo was taken by J.E. Booen (also spelled ‘Boen’ in some documents) during the first ascent of the Boulder Glacier route by the ‘LaConnor Expedition’. Hassan’s documentation says the photo was taken in 1892, but according to John Miles’s account of this ascent in Koma Kulshan (a history of human involvement with Mount Baker), this ascent was made in 1891. Hassan’s photo was taken this past fall (2012). The retreat of the Boulder Glacier is remarkable. It is not possible to measure the length of recession, but the decrease in ice thickness is clearly many tens of meters.

Here’s a link to the earlier post showing glacier comparison photos by Alan Kearney.

1892 ('91?) and 2012 photos of Mount Baker's east flank, showing profound glacial recession. Click to enlarge.

1892 (’91?) and 2012 photos of Mount Baker’s east flank, showing profound glacial recession. Click to enlarge.

Baker River geology field guide posted

Baker River's braided channel just above Lake Creek.

Baker River’s braided channel just above Lake Creek.

After a hike up the Baker River Trail at the north end of the Baker Reservoir, I just had to write it up for the blog. Shuksan Greenschist, waterfalls, an entrenched delta-cum-alluvial fan, exhumed eroded giant tree stumps, and really cool river cobbles, including volcanic breccia from Hannegan caldera. An easy round trip of 5 miles, even good in the pouring rain. Read the field trip here.

Mount Baker calendars! Scurlock photos!

The 2013 Mount Baker calendar features aerial views by John Scurlock. Click to enlarge.

Mount Baker Volcano Research Center is selling 2013 calendars featuring photos of Mount Baker. Each month has either a stunning aerial view by John Scurlock, or a geologic feature by Dave Tucker. Calendars are full-color, 11″ x 17″ [opened] and cost $25. Some important dates in Mount Baker history are included.

Order your calendar from the online printer/retailer Lulu. Go directly to the Lulu MBVRC calendar page ,where you can also preview the photos in the calendar. Holidays are approaching [hint, hint] so buy as many as you wish. Proceeds support the MBVRC research and education fund. The calendar can also be seen on the MBVRC post. Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.