Geologic Publications for Mount Rainier
An investigation into the 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow, Mt. Rainier, Washington, United States of America
[ back to previous page
Katherine H. Donovan
BSc Geological Hazards Thesis
University of Portsmouth (UK)
Debris flows are the primary geological hazard from Mt Rainier. Debris flows are mixtures of rock, mud and water that have a high sediment content and move down slope under gravity. These torrents of mud, rock and water pose a considerable risk to the Mount Rainier National Park visitors, employees, and infrastructure. The following study primarily investigates the October 20th-21st 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow. The 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow is an archetypal low magnitude, high frequency debris flow. An understanding of this hazard leads to the development of an effective remedial scheme, thereby reducing the risk posed to the local vulnerabilities.
A combination of fieldwork recordings, observations and remote sensing techniques has been used to produce hazard and risk maps for the study area.
The 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow was triggered by a small rock fall at approximately 3218m, 200m below Camp Hazard. A debris flow only requires a water content of 30% to flow down hill, and so coupled with an above average precipitation at that time, the rock fall material quickly transformed in to a debris flow. The mass of rock, mud and water increased in volume due to a bulking process (an increase in volume by incorporating sediment from channel banks). Although the 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow did not travel outside the National Park boundaries, previous large magnitude flow events have reached as far as the Puget Sound, approximately 70 km north west of Mt Rainier.
Avoidance strategies, warning systems, and engineering methods are necessary mitigation schemes that are emplaced at Mt Rainier to reduce the risk posed by low frequency large magnitude flows.
The 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow is not unique to this region and due to the frequency of these low magnitude events, this report recommends the further introduction of some simple educational mitigation schemes, such as instructional warning signs at Van Trump Creek trailhead and at Christine Falls. This report illustrates the importance of educating the local population and tourists about the dangers, the warning signals and what to do in the event of low magnitude debris flows.
View Report (2.55M) View Appendix 1 (126.82K) View Appendix 2 (238.38K) View Appendix 3 (147.20K) View Appendix 4 (243.45K) View Appendix 5 (608.00K) View Appendix 6 (264.58K) View Appendix 7 (1.26M) View Appendix 8 (19.05K)
In Text Citation:
Donovan (2005) or (Donovan, 2005)
Donovan, K.H., 2005, An investigation into the 2003 Van Trump Creek debris flow, Mt. Rainier, Washington, United States of America: BSc Geological Hazards Thesis, University of Portsmouth (UK), 58 p..