MOUNT RAINIER
GEOLOGY & WEATHER
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Good Afternoon!
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Today is day 180 of 2022 and
day 272 of Water Year 2022
Welcome to morageology.com! This site is an externally-accessible clearing house of static, real-time, non-real-time, and archived Mount Rainier geologic and geomorphic data used for geohazard awareness and mitigation. All data provided on this site are publicly-accessible non-sensitive scientific information collected by geologists at Mount Rainier National Park. Individual datasets are provided here for informational use only and are not guaranteed to be accurate or final versions - all data should be considered provisional unless otherwise noted.
TODAY'S DEBRIS FLOW HAZARD
7-DAY FORECAST TREND:
LLLLLLL
LATEST PARADISE WEATHER
As of: 06/29/2022 05:00 PM

56.2° F
Wind: W (263°) @ 11 G 18 mph
Snow Depth: 77 in (166% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
LATEST LONGMIRE WEATHER
As of: 06/29/2022 04:00 PM

68.6° F
Snow Depth: 2 in (0% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
DARK SKY PRECIPITATION RADAR
MOUNT RAINIER VICINITY
FORECASTED SNOW PACK
AT PARADISE (5,400')
[ More Info ]
Twin culverts of Kautz Creek on the Nisqually-Longmire Road (from a photo by Scott Beason on 05/01/2018)
LATEST EARTHQUAKES:
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier
:
42

LAST 5 EARTHQUAKES:

  1. Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 02:18:24 GMT
    22 hours 35 minutes 28 seconds ago
    19.084 km (11.858 mi) SE of summit
    Magnitude: 0.4
    Depth 1.9 km (1.2 mi)
    View More Info

  2. Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 19:00:43 GMT
    1 day 5 hours 53 minutes 10 seconds ago
    17.638 km (10.959 mi) SW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.2
    Depth 3.3 km (2.1 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 12:56:45 GMT
    1 day 11 hours 57 minutes 8 seconds ago
    19.174 km (11.914 mi) WSW of summit
    Magnitude: 1.0
    Depth 7.3 km (4.5 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Wed, Jun 22, 2022, 12:35:51 GMT
    7 days 12 hours 18 minutes 1 seconds ago
    12.544 km (7.795 mi) W of summit
    Magnitude: 0.2
    Depth 10.2 km (6.3 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Tue, Jun 21, 2022, 16:05:52 GMT
    8 days 8 hours 48 minutes 1 seconds ago
    16.742 km (10.403 mi) WSW of summit
    Magnitude: -0.2
    Depth 6.1 km (3.8 mi)
    View More Info

MISC:
Currently, this site has approximately
11,025,860
total data points in its database!
 
1 RANDOM PUBLICATION AND THE 5 LATEST PUBLICATIONS ADDED TO THE DATABASE:
  1. Florea et al. (2021) The morphology of glaciovolcanic caves
    Glacial ice mantles some volcanoes at high latitudes or altitudes. In these settings, thermal flux at the ice-rock boundary forms glaciovolcanic caves. The morphology of these caves balances ice accumulation and ablation, the movement of glacial ice, volcanic heat flux, and liquid and gas flow through interconnected voids. These caves are an understudied part of the hydrogeology and mechanical weathering of volcanic edifices. Longitudinal studies of glaciovolcanic caves in the Cascade Volcanic Arc reveal a window into the underlying processes. At Mt. Hood, we have observed a decade-long reduction in cave passage contemporaneous with the retreat of the Sandy Glacier. On the summit of Mt. Rainer, a persistent circum-crater conduit in the glacial plug connects fumaroles to the surface through a web of dynamic rising vents. In the crater of Mt. Saint Helens, a complex array of recently formed caves is arranged astride the 2004-2008 lava dome. The caves are clearly associated with fumaroles and are evolving into persistent conduits in a growing glacier. Comparative assessment between glaciovolcanic caves of the Cascades and other examples reveals generalized morphological patterns: 1) thermally influenced englacial conduits, where warm water creates melt-void caves that are enlarged by atmospheric advection; 2) isolated 'steam domes', whose size and shape are dictated by the rate of convective fumarole emissions; 3) lateral conduits in glacial ice are often chains of steam domes positioned around fumaroles with a size interannually maintained by atmospheric advection; 4) chimneys and rising conduits venting fumaroles with size and shape guided by accumulation or ablation of firn; 5) crevasses and moulins intersecting glaciovolcanic caves maintained by heat flux and atmospheric advection; and 6) ice-marginal melt at the ice-rock interface enhanced at the glacial margin and maintained by fluid movement but with highly variable morphology and persistence governed by bedload.
  2. Fricke and Lofgren (2022) Predicting impacts of climate change on water supply: Mount Rainier National Park
    Mount Rainier National Park's (MORA) water supply primarily depends on streams and lakes fed by snowmelt and perennial snowfields. The loss of perennial snowfields during the past thirty years, combined with the potential for lower annual snowpack and increased air temperatures, could have profound implications for Park water supplies. Warming temperatures correspond with shifts from solid to liquid precipitation resulting in earlier snowmelt. In response to increasing Park visitation, multiple stressors on sensitive aquatic organisms, and projected climate changes, MORA is taking steps to develop a range of water supply options and park management strategies to adapt to climate change. As a case study, warm winter temperatures during water year 2015 had a profound effect on snowpack in MORA. During the months when most snow is deposited in our mountains (December to March), temperatures typically averaged more than 3°C above normal. Although precipitation was near normal, warmer temperatures caused much of this precipitation to fall as rain, resulting in an unusually low snowpack. These conditions stressed water supplies that are critical to Park operations, and likely stressed sensitive aquatic species (e.g., cold-water fishes and insects) downstream of water supply intakes as a consequence of elevated stream temperatures and low stream flow. Conditions resembling historical droughts, including the recent 2015 event, are projected to be more likely within this century as the climate warms across the region. These changes are likely to coincide with increased Park visitation and greater stresses on sensitive aquatic ecosystems. In order to provide sufficient context for our analysis, we have summarized MORA’s current water supply demands, history of development, issues, changes over time, and potential impacts to aquatic organisms. Focusing on key water supply systems within the Park, we estimated the potential maximum use and storage capacity of existing water. We then scaled region-wide streamflow projections under multiple emission scenarios to water supply intake drainage basins to evaluate future water supply scenarios within the Park. Our findings suggest the most viable immediate options for securing water supplies long-term include increasing system storage capacity and adding groundwater sources. These results can be used to directly inform current Park planning efforts and potential management actions to adapt to changing visitation demands, infrastructure needs, and climate change.
  3. Anderson and Shean (2022) Spatial and temporal controls on proglacial erosion rates: A comparison of four basins on Mount Rainier, 1960-2017
    The retreat of alpine glaciers since the mid-19th century has triggered rapid landscape adjustments in many headwater basins. However, the degree to which decadal-scale glacier retreat is associated with systematic or substantial changes in overall coarse sediment export, with the potential to impact downstream river dynamics, remains poorly understood. Here, we use repeat topographic surveys to assess geomorphic change in four partly glaciated basins on a stratovolcano (Mount Rainier) in Washington State at roughly decadal intervals from 1960 to 2017. The proglacial extents of the four basins show distinct geomorphic trajectories, ranging from substantial and sustained net erosion to relatively inactive with net deposition. These different trajectories correspond to differences in initial (1960) valley floor gradients, and can be effectively understood as valley floor grade adjustments. Significant erosion was most often accomplished by debris flows triggered by extreme rainfall or glacial outburst floods, though a single rockfall mobilized more material than all other events combined. Year-to-year runoff events had little measurable geomorphic impact. Exported material tended to accumulate in broad deposits within several kilometers of source areas and largely remained there through the end of the study period. Over 10- to 100-year timescales, we find that the impact of glacier retreat on coarse sediment yield may then vary substantially according to the geometry and storage trends of the newly exposed valley floor; the timing of that response may also be dictated, and potentially obscured, by stochastic and/or extreme events.
  4. Fordham (2022) Glacier Peak and the chocolate factory: Recurring debris flows from the eastern flank of Glacier Peak stratovolocano, North Cascades, Washington State, USA
    Alpine mass wasting events can have wide ranging impacts that extend past their headwater origins reaching down to lowland population centers. The Suiattle River, which drains the eastern flank of Glacier Peak in the North Cascades of Washington State, is a dominant contributor of suspended sediment in the region. Normalized for drainage area, the Suiattle River supplies more suspended sediment than nearly any other river in the region and more than twice as much as the White Chuck River, which drains the western flank of the volcano. Despite its known importance to the regional sediment budget, the specific geomorphic drivers of the anomalous sediment load on the Suiattle have received relatively little attention in the literature. In this study, I build on previous work to explore the magnitude, timing, triggering mechanisms, and the spatial distribution of sediment loading events in the Suiattle River Basin. My historical analysis shows that major debris flow activity initiated in the late-1930s, with a total of nine historic debris flows since then (RI = 9.3 years). One previously unreported circa late-1940s debris flow was identified from reanalysis of dendrochronology (Slaughter, 2004) and historical aerial imagery. From topographic differencing, I placed a minimum bound of ~4.9 M m3 (±0.6 M m3) on the material incised from the most recent valley filling debris flow deposits. Historical accounts suggest that major debris flows happen at the hottest times of the year in the absence of precipitation, with two eyewitness accounts of debris flows triggered by glacial outburst floods. Historical photos, remote sensing, and field measurements of terrace heights suggest that incision into historic debris flow deposits occurs soon after deposition and tapers after the first few years. To examine smaller more recent debris flows, I created a framework to automatically extract debris flow timing, duration, and magnitude from USGS turbidity and discharge data over the period 2011 to 2020. I identified 28 individual debris flow events that occurred in every year in the record. To evaluate triggering mechanisms, I calculated prior day maximum temperature anomalies for all non-debris flow days and for days when a debris flow started. Debris flow start days were shown to be statistically warmer than non-debris flow days (mean of -0.21 °C and 2.48 °C, respectively; ks test, dm = 0.314, p = 0.007). This suggests that minor debris flows are triggered by high temperatures and, like the historical major debris flows, points to glacier outburst floods as the primary initiation process. I estimate suspended sediment loads attributable to minor debris flows, anomalous sediment flushing events following debris flows, and suspended sediment loads outside of these categories. Together debris flows and flushing account for ~21% of the mean annual load on the Suiattle. At Glacier Peak, Chocolate Glacier is unique. Its high propensity for glacier outburst floods makes it the dominant source of debris flows and suspended sediment, vastly outweighing contributions from other glaciers on the mountain. The frequency and magnitude of debris flows from Chocolate Glacier bare similarities to South Tahoma Glacier at Mount Rainier. Combined, my findings show that debris flows deliver large quantities of sediment to the mainstem river at both annual and decadal timescales. This work is a step toward understanding how sediment supplied from alpine mass wasting events shapes downstream geomorphic processes. My findings have implications for how ongoing climate change may alter cascading hazards in these systems.
  5. Almekinder (2022) Using spectral indices to determine the effects of the summer 2021 North American heat wave at Mount Rainier, Washington
    Quality of life at Mount Rainier and the surrounding region is dependent on annual snowpack and subsequent snowmelt. Winter storm observations, snowpack, and the rate of snowmelt all play critical roles in determining the health of the environment. To help analyze these factors, users and consumers rely on remotely sensed data to analyze the past, present, and future of the area. The Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), collected from satellite imagery, are two spectral indices used with analyzing snowpack and vegetation health to assist risk mitigation for wildfires, glacial change, and river ecosystems. This project used NDSI and NDVI to determine if the 2021 North American heat wave had any significant effects on vegetation health, snowpack, and glacial size over a five-year study period. Landsat 8 satellite imagery was acquired, corrected for any atmospheric bias, and processed through GIS techniques. Despite yearly fluctuation of warmer and cooler years, results show a progressive increase in snowmelt with 2021 showing the highest percentage during the study period and the highest differential from the mean of all years in the study. Vegetation labeled as "Healthy" saw the biggest decrease between consecutive years from 2020-2021. Also in 2021, Mount Rainier saw its glaciers recede to their lowest total area since 2005. Conclusions show that general warming trends are occurring in the Pacific Northwest and the heat wave exacerbated total glacial area, total snow area, and vegetation health. This Masters project contributes to future extreme weather anomalies and related results.
  6. George et al. (2022) Modeling the dynamics of lahars that originate as landslides on the west side of Mount Rainier, Washington
    Large lahars pose substantial threats to people and property downstream from Mount Rainier volcano in Washington State. Geologic evidence indicates that these threats exist even during the absence of volcanic activity and that the threats are highest in the densely populated Puyallup and Nisqually River valleys on the west side of the volcano. However, the precise character of these threats can be difficult to anticipate. To help predict depths and rates of possible lahar inundation in the area, this report presents the results of simulations of hypothetical future lahars that originate high on the west side of Mount Rainier and travel downstream into the Puyallup and Nisqually River valleys. Many of the results portrayed as still images in the figures of this report are also available as animated files that can be accessed at the web address provided in the figure captions. We simulated eight scenarios, including worst-case scenarios in which the simulated lahars are similar in size and mobility to the approximately 260 million cubic meter (Mm3; 340 million cubic yard) Electron Mudflow lahar that descended from Mount Rainier and inundated the Puyallup River valley about 500 years ago. The other six scenarios place the worst-case scenarios in perspective by simulating lahars that originate from the same source areas but have smaller volumes or lesser mobilities. We perform our simulations using an open-source software package that we developed called D-Claw. The numerical model composing the kernel of D-Claw solves a system of five hyperbolic partial differential equations that describe the depth-averaged dynamics of static or flowing grain-fluid mixtures interacting with three-dimensional topography. In D-Claw, the volume fraction occupied by solid grains is a dependent variable that can freely evolve, enabling simulation of landslide liquefaction and of lahar interaction with static bodies of water. The latter feature facilitates a seamless simulation of a lahar in the Nisqually River valley entering Alder Lake reservoir. In the event of an approximately 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating on the west side of Mount Rainier, our results point to two areas of pronounced hazard. One area, comprising the densely populated lowlands of Orting, Washington, and environs, could be inundated by lahars originating from either the Sunset Amphitheater or Tahoma Glacier headwall areas. In the worst-case scenario we consider for the Orting lowlands, which involves a 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating from a landslide in the Sunset Amphitheater, a flow front approximately 4 meters deep and traveling about 4 meters per second reaches the Orting lowlands about 1 hour after the onset of slope failure. After passing through the Orting lowlands, the simulated lahar slows down and comes to rest in the valleys surrounding Sumner and Puyallup. A second area of pronounced hazard is the stretch of the Nisqually River valley beginning in Mount Rainier National Park and extending downstream to Alder Lake reservoir and Alder Dam. This area would be substantially affected in the worst-case scenario that involves a 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating from the Tahoma Glacier headwall area—the locality identified by a previous study as the sector of Mount Rainier most prone to large-scale gravitational collapse. The simulated lahar passes through the area of Ashford, Washington, within about 20 minutes of the onset of slope failure and reaches the head of Alder Lake within about 50 minutes. The lahar ultimately displaces enough reservoir water to cause overtopping of the 100 meter (330 foot) tall Alder Dam, but consequences of such dam overtopping are not addressed in this report.

View More Publications...

LATEST UPDATES AND SITE NEWS:
August 5, 2019 Tahoma Creek Debris Flow
Posted on Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 17:00 by Scott Beason. Updated on Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 17:00

The 32nd recorded debris flow in Tahoma Creek occurred on August 5, 2019, between 6:44 PM PDT (8/6/2019 01:55 UTC) - 8:10 PM PDT (8/6/2019 03:10 UTC), as observed on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's (PNSN) Emerald Ridge (RER) seismograph. The event began as a sudden and significant change in the primary outlet stream from the terminus of the South Tahoma Glacier. This change caused a surge of water to go over loose, steep and unconsolidated sediment-rich areas just downstream of the terminus. Debris flow deposits were observed approximately 4 miles downstream at the Tahoma Creek Trail trailhead (an area affectionally known in the park as 'barrel curve'). The event is still being investigated... a good photo set (with a few videos) is available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mountrainiernps/sets/72157710161403356/. If you would like to view more information about the event, click here: http://www.morageology.com/geoEvent.php#145. If you were in the area of the South Tahoma Glacier or Tahoma Creek on the evening of August 5 and/or morning of August 6, and have any interesting observations, please send them to Scott Beason.

New Camp Schurman weather station added!
Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 14:17 by Scott Beason. Updated on Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 14:17

A new weather station has been added to morageology.com. Click the following link to see hourly data from Camp Schurman on the NE side of Mount Rainier's volcanic edifice at 9,500 feet: http://waterdata.morageology.com/station.php?g=MORAWXCS.

Longmire RSAM Down
Posted on Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 05:00 by Scott Beason. Updated on Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 05:00

The Longmire (LON) seismograph has been reporting ground vibrations from a construction project in the area near the seismograph. In order to prevent erroneous debris flow alerts, the RSAM (debris flow detection) analysis has been disabled. The system will be restored once the construction project has been completed.

LATEST CASCADES VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE:

CASCADES VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Sunday, June 26, 2022, 7:47 AM PDT (Sunday, June 26, 2022, 14:47 UTC)


CASCADE RANGE (VNUM #)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Activity Update: All volcanoes in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington are at normal background levels of activity. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams in Washington State; and Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake in Oregon.

Recent Observations: Monitoring systems indicate that activity at Cascade Range volcanoes remained at background levels over the last week. Field crews performed maintenance at several lahar monitoring stations near Mount Rainier.

The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) continue to monitor these volcanoes closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.



Website Resources
For images, graphics, and general information on Cascade Range volcanoes: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo" target="_blank" title="https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes: https://pnsn.org/volcanoes" target="_blank" title="https://pnsn.org/volcanoes">https://pnsn.org/volcanoes">https://pnsn.org/volcanoes">https://pnsn.org/volcanoes
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/notifications" target="_blank" title="https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/notifications">https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/notifications">https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/notifications">https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/notifications



The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) continue to monitor these volcanoes closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.

 

Website Resources

For images, graphics, and general information on Cascade Range volcanoes: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo" target="_blank" title="https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo">https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes: http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes" target="_blank" title="http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes">http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes">http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes">http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications: https://www.usgs.gov/programs/VHP/volcano-notifications-deliver-situational-information" target="_blank" title="https://www.usgs.gov/programs/VHP/volcano-notifications-deliver-situational-information">https://www.usgs.gov/programs/VHP/volcano-notifications-deliver-situational-information">https://www.usgs.gov/programs/VHP/volcano-notifications-deliver-situational-information">https://www.usgs.gov/programs/VHP/volcano-notifications-deliver-situational-information



CONTACT INFORMATION:

Jon Major, Scientist-in-Charge, Cascades Volcano Observatory, jjmajor@usgs.gov

General inquiries: vhpweb@usgs.gov
Media: Ryan McClymont, PIO, USGS Office of Communications and Publishing rmcclymont@usgs.gov