Thursday, October 20, 2016

Weird Sand Protrusions at Lilly Point, Point Roberts

I have posted before about the north bluff north of Lilly Point at Point Roberts (lilly-point-point-roberts-part-ii-north). I had another bit of a look at this spectacular bluff on my way to figure out a geohazard site further north.

The bluff consists mostly of a thick sequence of alluvial sediment that I have interpreted to be associated with a large pre-last glacial period river system possibly in some sort of delta like setting. The exposure provides a great cross-section of cut and fill structures and other alluvial deposit features.
Channel cut into layered sand with rip up silt/clay clasts overlain by a thicker sequence of silts

On the lower right of the above image there are a few protruding bumps in the sand unit that I first thought were pebbles until I actually looked at them.

I do not know what these things are or have much of an explanation. They do seem to be associated with specific layers within finely bedded sand deposit.

The bluff is erodes by combination of wave erosion and wind erosion.

As is often the case, I did not have time to linger long as I had to proceed to my main purpose and my ventures on this day had required a fair bit of hiking as well as steep bluff slope scambles.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tidal Surge Notes From the Big October Blow

NOAA tide gauges are worth taking a look at during big storms. The combination of low pressure and wind can have a pronounced impact on water levels. Of course throwing in wave action due to wind can have a big impact on how a given storm will impact shorelines.
LaPush on the outer coast recorded a pressure that dipped below 980.

A bit of different scale for Port Townsend shows a pressure drop down to 982 at roughly 4:30 pm yesterday. 

The low pressure coincided with yesterday afternoon's high tide and caused a tide level to be about 1.5 feet higher than the non weather predicted level or a 1.5 foot tide surge.

Add the wind driven waves and water would have been reaching higher up onto the shoreline than normal.

Alas there are a limited number of tide gauges in Puget Sound so one cannot project the same tide surge having taken place everywhere. Nuance of wind and currents can have marked differences in storm surge. Observations I have made post big storms have found that storm surge can be surprisingly variable. Wind can really push water around and pile it up in some inlets with other nearby sites are much less impacted.

I had a view of Alice Bay southeast of Samish Island in Skagit County yesterday. There was a definite storm surge that brought the water up over the low marsh land separating Alice Bay from Samish Bay. The water was significantly higher than what would be a normal high tide. Perhaps high water in the Strait of Juan de Fuca combined with water pushed up by wind from the south elevated the bay a little extra. The high water pushed a few duck hunters off the marsh a bit earlier than perhaps they wanted.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Appreciation for GOES West

GOES Satellite
The potential for a 1 in 10 year wind storm has gotten plenty of attention. Perhaps Facebook is enhancing the spread of concern. Hopefully folks will be clever about staying away from trees. The approaching event should cause some appreciation of GOES West. I for one appreciated the weather predictions and shifted my field adventures accordingly.

Dan's Wild Science points out that hurricane winds may be expected. He also provided this image from the GOES West Satellite of the approaching storm.

The spiral from yesterday's storm can be readily made out, but the bigger approaching storm event has not formed yet. The combination of GOES West ( and data and weather models has allowed for providing high wind warnings associated with this event days ahead of the intense low pressure even taking shape. Compared to the Columbus Day Storm in the 1962, this storm will not be unexpected.

The big deal of this storm is that it will bring very strong winds to the more interior sections of western Washington. The fact that it is a ten year or so wind storm suggests that a lot of 10 years worth of growth of tree branches, limbs and tops will all get tested. The positive aspect is that the ground is not yet saturated, so toppling will not be as great a risk as a January wind storm.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Hornets

One of the fall field hazards in western Washington are hornet nests in the ground. I stepped in one while picking my way through a thicket of Nootka rose. I found the rose thorns were not so bothersome once the stinging began. I came out of the encounter with about ten stings with a few that were very sore.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Short Note on the Oso landslide Settlement

I have been quiet on the subject of the Hazel/Oso Landslide as I had been retained to help the attorneys representing some of the families. The settlement of the case (50m-settlement-reached-in-oso-landslide-suit and timberland company for $10 million) came as a bit of last minute thing; the jury had been selected and the trial was to start this week.

My thoughts are with the families. While articulating the geologic perspective of this landslide, I was consistently reminded of those that were killed and hurt and their families and loved ones.

I worked with Emily Brubaker Harris and Guy Michelson of Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore. They and legal assistants were great to work with. Their level of effort and passion and attention to detail was remarkable.     

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Willamette Meteor - A well traveled erratic

The Willamette Meteor can be described as a triple erratic. The meteor landed in British Columbia or northern Washington or northern Idaho sometime between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago. A meteor should be considered an extreme erratic. A piece of rock that did not form locally; it came from somewhere else. In this case, somewhere else was from very far away.

The next stage of this erratic's wanderings was that it was transported by glacial ice into northern Idaho or possibly northern Washington. It had become a glacial erratic. That trip placed the rock and the ice it was embedded in either in the ice dam holding back glacial Lake Missoula or within ice associated with glacial Lake Columbia.

During one of the larger outburst floods that ice was rafted as an ice berg across eastern Washington, through Wallula Gap, down through the Columbia River Gorge through the Cascades Mountains into a backup area of water in the lower Willamette valley where the ice berg grounded. The lake receded and the ice berg melted leaving the unusual rock to be be contemplated by future people.

The rock ultimately ended up on a couple more voyages. First a few miles in the Willamette valley via a local that tried to claim the meteor as his own and then later to New York after it was sold to the natural History Museum.

The story can be found on the link above and shout out to retosterricolas for calling it to my attention in his post. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Field Work Anxiety

I was a bit surprised to come across these plants during a field venture. 

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington, but apparently someone prefers growing there buds in the forest. This is the third time I have come across a plot of these plants; although coming across some armed men who were not hunters on National Forest land probably should count as well. That encounter as well as stories from others and in the news causes a bit of anxiety around these plants. I suspect and hope the money and scale of grow operations is no longer what it once was and the forest is safer.

My other anxiety is being under these types of structures.
I know just enough about this elevated highway and geology to be a bit uncomfortable. Progress on replacing this highway in Seattle is moving forward again.