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Sunday, January 23, 2022
Today is day 23 of 2022 and
day 115 of Water Year 2022
Welcome to! 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.
As of: 01/23/2022 12:00 PM

50.6° F
Wind: S (184°) @ 2 G 5 mph
Snow Depth: 103 in (87% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
As of: 01/23/2022 01:00 PM

38° F
Snow Depth: 24 in (88% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.01 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
AT PARADISE (5,400')
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Tahoma Creek after the August 2019 debris flow (from a photo by Scott Beason on 08/07/2019)
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier


  1. Thu, Jan 20, 2022, 05:24:50 GMT
    3 days 15 hours 56 minutes 19 seconds ago
    0.467 km (0.290 mi) NE of summit
    Magnitude: 0.0
    Depth 1.8 km (1.1 mi)
    View More Info

  2. Wed, Jan 19, 2022, 03:25:07 GMT
    4 days 17 hours 56 minutes 2 seconds ago
    20.288 km (12.607 mi) SE of summit
    Magnitude: 1.1
    Depth 5.4 km (3.4 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 23:17:23 GMT
    4 days 22 hours 3 minutes 45 seconds ago
    0.501 km (0.311 mi) S of summit
    Magnitude: 0.3
    Depth 0.6 km (0.4 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 16:03:04 GMT
    5 days 5 hours 18 minutes 5 seconds ago
    12.704 km (7.894 mi) WNW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.3
    Depth 7.7 km (4.8 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 14:34:40 GMT
    5 days 6 hours 46 minutes 28 seconds ago
    0.360 km (0.224 mi) NNW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.2
    Depth 1.3 km (0.8 mi)
    View More Info

Currently, this site has approximately
total data points in its database!
  1. Vallance et al. (2003) Debris-flow hazards caused by hydrologic events at Mount Rainier, Washington
    At 4393 m, ice-clad Mount Rainier has great potential for debris flows owing to its precipitous slopes and incised steep valleys, the large volume of water stored in its glaciers, and a mantle of loose debris on its slopes. In the past 10,000 years, more than sixty Holocene lahars have occurred at Mount Rainier (Scott et al., 1985), and, in addition more than thirty debris flows not related to volcanism have occurred in historical time (Walder and Driedger, 1984). Lahars at Mount Rainier can be classed in 3 groups according to their genesis: (1) flank collapse of hydrothermally altered, water-saturated rock; (2) eruption-related release of water and loose debris; and (3) hydrologic release of water and debris (Scott et al., 1985). Lahars in the first two categories are commonly voluminous and are generally related to unrest and explosions that occur during eruptive episodes. Lahars in the third category, distinguished here as debris flows, are less voluminous than the others but occur frequently at Mount Rainier, often with little or no warning. Historically at Mount Rainier, glacial outburst floods, torrential rains, and stream capture have caused small- to moderate-size debris flows (Walder and Driedger, 1984). Such debris flows are most likely to occur in drainages that have large glaciers in them. Less commonly, a drainage diversion has triggered a debris flow in an unglaciated drainage basin. For example, the diversion of Kautz Glacier meltwater into Van Trump basin triggered debris flows on the south side of Rainier in August 2001. On the basis of historical accounts, debris flows having hydrologic origins are likely to be unheralded, and have occurred as seldom as once in 8 years and as often as four times per year at Mount Rainier (Walder and Driedger, 1984). Such debris flows are most likely to occur during periods of hot dry weather or during periods of intense rainfall, and therefore must occur during the summer and fall. They are likely to begin at or above the elevations of glacier termini and extend down valley. This report discusses potential hazards from debris flows induced by hydrologic events such as glacial outburst floods and torrential rain at Mount Rainier and the surrounding area bounded by Mount Rainier National Park. The report also shows, in the accompanying hazard-zonation maps, which areas are likely to be at risk from future such debris flows at Mount Rainier. Lahar hazards related to avalanches of altered rock and to the interactions of hot rock and ice during eruptions are discussed in Scott and Vallance (1995) and Hoblitt et al. (1998) and are not addressed in this report.
  2. Christian et al. (2022) Differences in the transient responses of individual glaciers: A case study of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, USA
    Mountain glaciers have response times that govern retreat due to anthropogenic climate change. We use geometric attributes to estimate individual response times for 383 glaciers in the Cascade mountain range of Washington State, USA. Approximately 90% of estimated response times are between 10 and 60 years, with many large glaciers on the short end of this distribution. A simple model of glacier dynamics shows that this range of response times entails consequential differences in recent and ongoing glacier changes: glaciers with decadal response times have nearly kept pace with anthropogenic warming, but those with multi-decadal response times are far from equilibrium, and their additional committed retreat stands well beyond natural variability. These differences have implications for changes in glacier runoff. A simple calculation highlights that transient peaks in area-integrated melt, either at the onset of forcing or due to variations in forcing, depend on the glacier's response time and degree of disequilibrium. We conclude that differences in individual response times should be considered when assessing the state of a population of glaciers and modeling their future response. These differences in response can arise simply from a range of different glacier geometries, and the same basic principles can be expected in other regions as well.
  3. Acob et al. (2021) Small scale spatial variability of light-absorbing particles in snow on Mount Rainier, Washington State, USA
    Light-absorbing particles (LAP), including black carbon (BC), dust, and light absorbing organics, can be deposited on snow, decreasing albedo and accelerating snowmelt. While other studies have focused on larger scale spatial variability of LAPs, it is important to take smaller scale spatial variability into account as well because there is potential for large variability among these LAP across small spatial scales. The purpose of this study was to analyze the spatial variability of LAP within the Sunrise and Paradise regions on Mount Rainier and evaluate the effect of LAP on snow albedo. In July 2021, we used a Spectral Evolution PSR+ Spectroradiometer to measure snow reflectance at the snow collection sites, and on transects across the snow sampling areas. Snow samples taken from these sites were kept frozen until just prior to analysis, then melted and analyzed for total impurity concentrations using gravimetric filtration, black carbon using a Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2), organic and elemental carbon using a Sunset- OC-EC Analyzer, and dust and organic content using a Jupiter Simultaneous Thermal Analyzer. LAP were characterized at the submicron scale using a Cytoviva Hyperspectral Imaging Microscope Spectrometer. Our results show that there is large variability in LAP concentration and composition over small spatial scales due to variations in snow topography (snow cups) and variable conditions favorable to algae blooms.
  4. Vinnell et al. (2021) Community preparedness for volcanic hazards at Mount Rainier, USA
    Lahars pose a significant risk to communities, particularly those living near snow-capped volcanoes. Flows of mud and debris, typically but not necessarily triggered by volcanic activity, can have huge impacts, such as those seen at Nevado Del Ruiz, Colombia, in 1985 which led to the loss of over 23,000 lives and destroyed an entire town. We surveyed communities around Mount Rainier, Washington, United States, where over 150,000 people are at risk from lahar impacts. We explored how factors including demographics, social effects such as perceptions of community preparedness, evacuation drills, and cognitive factors such as risk perception and self-efficacy relate to preparedness when living within or nearby a volcanic hazard zone. Key findings include: women have stronger intentions to prepare but see themselves as less prepared than men; those who neither live nor work in a lahar hazard zone were more likely to have an emergency kit and to see themselves as more prepared; those who will need help to evacuate see the risk as lower but feel less prepared; those who think their community and officials are more prepared feel more prepared themselves; and benefits of evacuation drills and testing evacuation routes including stronger intentions to evacuate using an encouraged method and higher self-efficacy. We make a number of recommendations based on these findings including the critical practice of regular evacuation drills and the importance of ongoing messaging that focuses on appropriate ways to evacuate as well as the careful recommendation for residents to identify alternative unofficial evacuation routes.
  5. Thelen et al. (2021) Investigating location methods of surface events using seismic and infasound data at Mount Rainier
    Mount Rainier, Washington looms large above a vulnerable population of permanent residents and transient tourists. The hazard most likely to impact the largest population is a sector collapse that incorporates water to transform into a mobile lahar. Such sector collapses have occurred most famously 5600 years ago in the Osceola Mudflow and most recently approximately 500 years ago in the Electron Mudflow. Weak, hydrothermally altered rock remains left over in the scar of the Electron Mudflow, and the failure of this rock is the most likely source area for the next lahar. In response to this hazard, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is building the Rainier Lahar Detection System (RLDS), which when fully implemented, will provide early warning of a lahar to potentially impacted communities. A major part of the system is an enhanced network of seismometers and infrasound arrays that will make Mount Rainier one of the best monitored volcanoes in the Cascades. Thus far, 14 additional seismometers and 9 infrasound arrays have been installed, mainly on the west and south sides of the volcano. Approximately 20 additional sites are proposed to be installed. Several avalanches, rockfalls, icefalls and debris flows (collectively called surface events) have been recorded by the current network since improvements began in 2016. We use this dataset to assess different location methods for these surface events using complementary observations. Specifically, we consider amplitude and amplitude ratio source locations, envelope-based locations and infrasound back azimuths to understand the sensitivity of the individual methods within the RLDS monitoring network. The results of this analysis will help calibrate the RLDS network and inform decisions about the best algorithms to use for rapid detection of larger events that may impact downstream populations.
  6. Uhlrich et al. (2021) A 40-year story of river sediment at Mount St. Helens
    The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State unleashed one of the largest debris avalanches (landslide) in recorded history. The debris avalanche deposited 3.3 billion cubic yards of material into the upper North Fork Toutle River watershed and obstructed the Columbia River shipping channel downstream. From the eruption on May 18, 1980, to September 30, 2018, the Toutle River transported a total of about 405 million tons of sediment into the lower Cowlitz River—enough to bury downtown Portland, Oregon, to a depth of 300 feet. Excluding the massive sediment load from the eruption itself, from October 1, 1980, to September 30, 2018, the Toutle River transported more than 248 million tons of sediment, or an average of 6.5 million tons per year. Increased flood risk to downstream communities is managed by a sediment retention structure, grade building structures, berms, levees, and dredging. Near-real-time monitoring of streamflow and sediment yield is important for effective management of these dynamic mitigation efforts. Since the sediment retention structure began trapping sediment in November 1987, the Toutle River has transported on average 2.8 million tons of sediment per year into the lower Cowlitz River. This is still 10 times greater than pre-eruption levels, with higher sediment transport potentially approaching 50 to 100 times greater during storms. Despite the eruption lasting only a few hours, the socioeconomic effects and mitigation measures for the region continue into the 21st century.

View More Publications...

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: If you would like to view more information about the event, click here: 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 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:

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.


U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, January 21, 2022, 9:22 AM PST (Friday, January 21, 2022, 17:22 UTC)

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: Over the last week small earthquakes were located at Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Three Sisters, consistent with background seismicity levels at both volcanoes. Field crews took advantage of a break in the weather to perform maintenance at one site at Mount Hood.

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.

For images, graphics, and general information on Cascade Range volcanoes:
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes:
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications: