Tamanowas Rock, Chimacum, Olympic Peninsula.

By Dave Tucker, November 8, 2010.

Tamanowas Rock rising above the access gate. Peninsula Daily News.

Dan McShane has posted another neat geological location on his website, Reading the Washington Landscape. He visits an exposure of an oddball type of felsic lava and pyroclastics, adakite, at Tamonowas Rock, near Chimacum, a little south of Port Townsend. It’s not really a field trip, because his post doesn’t give much in the way of directions, or describe the outcrops. Use the Google Earth map on Dan’s post to find the trailhead; the east facing rock cliff rises just to the west of the road. Dan’s photos look pretty neat. I’ll definitelyvisit this place, probably when I investigate the basalt dike nearby at Nodule Point, which both Dan and I have written about previously.

Until I know more, I can expand only slightly on Dan’s post about Tamanowas Rock. This is a cliff of Eocene subaerial adakitic lava and lava breccia just west of the town of Chimacum. Adakite is a type of lava similar to dacite, and is interpreted to be derived from the melting of subducted ocean floor basalt. Generally, lavas (be they basaltic, andesite, dacite, or rhyolite) that erupt in convergence zones, such as Cascadia, are believed to result from partial melting of the wedge of the mantle (not the descending ocean plate) that lies between the subducted ocean slab and the overriding continental plate. However, there is evidence that small amounts of the subducted ocean floor basalt itself may also melt and add a recognizable trace element signature to some rare erupted products. The pyroclastic rocks exposure at Tamanowas consists of angular clasts of hornblende dacite up to one meter in diameter in a fine-grained matrix. Dan has a link in his blog’s post to a 2004 GSA abstract written by undergraduate geology students in Jeff Tepper’s petrology class at University of Puget Sound. Jeff

Google Earth image from Dan McSahane’s blog. Click to enlarge.

regularly involves many of his students in petrologic research, pretty cool for an undergrad program! A number of their projects have been published. Another link on Dan’s post will take you to more than you could ever want to read about adakites. A news article on the S’Kallam tribe’s successful effort to protect the rock, sacred to them, appears in the The Peninsula Daily News in December 2012.  An older Peninsula Daily News article with photos is here. I’ve borrowed some of theirs for this preliminary article, with credit.

Use Dan’s blog post as a field trip, until I get over there to write it up.

Getting there: Use Washington State Highway 19, which runs N-S connecting Port Townsend with Highway 104 (which in turn crosses Hood Canal on the bridge). Turn west on Anderson Lake Road a little north of Chimacum, or 8.8 miles south of the ferry dock in Port Townsend. The hiking route begins in 0.6 miles on the right (north). Walk through the woods another 6/10 mile to the top.

The gated road at the access point. Photo Peninsula Daily News. Jefferson Land Trust has passed ownership to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

4 Responses

  1. I recently hiked to Point of the Arches on Shi Shi beach, Olympic National Forest just south of Cape Flattery. Can you tell me what are the nature of the “headstones” that you see at low tide? They are curiously angled in one semi-circular direction at the south side of the beach and the opposing semi-curcular direction two miles away at the north end of the beach.



    • Wendy,
      Thanks for writing. I have been to Shi Shi but don’t remember these rock features. Do you have a photo? the rock layers there are tilted and folded, so it is possible that these represent eroded remnants of a folded rock layer or layers. Let a flat-lying piece of paper represent the original sediment that became these rocks, then fold it and tilt it downward a few degrees. Possibly a structure like this in the rock is what made these rock features after erosion.
      Dave Tucker

  2. […] Tamonowas Rock, near Chimacum. The prominent rock south of Port Townsend last appeared in the pages of this website in November, 2010. Accordng to the tribe, the public will retain access to the reserve, but […]

  3. I visited Tamanowas for the first time August 14, 2015 between summer rainstorms feeling the energies of the park forests and trails and enjoying being on top before leaving and then exploring the new tribe access point which brought us to the lower caves. What a wonderful experience and very little litter which we took home with us.

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