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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.

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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.

Pillow Lava in Washington, Part 3: The San Juan Islands

Intertidal pillows at Richardson, Lopez Island. Photo by Michael Yeaman.

Pillow lava is exposed in several spots in the San Juans. A new page on Northwest Geology Field Trips visits two places on Lopez, one on San Juan, and one on Cypress. Please send reports and photos of other good exposures.

Pillows at Cape Disappointment State Park

The second installment in the series of field trips to lava pillows has been published. This trip guides you to spectacular pillow exposures of the Crescent Formation at the south foot of North Head, in Cape Disappointment State Park. The pillows are easily accessed via the campground on Benson Beach north of the Columbia River’s mouth. Definitely worth a weekend at the beach!

Crescent Formation pillows behind the Benson Beach campground. Click to enlarge

Pillow lava localities in Washington- a new series on Northwest Geology Field Trips

Doing what comes naturally with pillowed lava. Grand Coulee near Lake Lenore.

A page explaining the origin of pillow lava has been added (link). There will be five field trips to diffferent places where pillow structures can be observed in Washington. The first of these has been posted here, to see pillows along the Heart O’ the Hills Road in Olympic National Park.

The other planned pillow field trips are:

  • On the beach at the foot of North Cape Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park (near Ilwaco)
  • Richardson, on Lopez Island
  • Sand Hollow, along the Columbia across from Vantage
  • The Manashtash Viewpoint on I-82, south of Ellensburg

Notices will go out to website subscribers as I get them written. If you wish to send photos and descriptions from other places, please have it! Send writeups to:

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