MOUNT RAINIER
GEOLOGY & WEATHER
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Good Afternoon!
Monday, September 26, 2022
Today is day 269 of 2022 and
day 361 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:
HMHVHHLL
LATEST PARADISE WEATHER
As of: 09/26/2022 02:00 PM

74.5° F
Wind: SE (126°) @ 4 G 11 mph
Snow Depth: 7 in (1040% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
LATEST LONGMIRE WEATHER
As of: 09/26/2022 02:00 PM

87.4° F
Snow Depth: 3 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 ]
Debris flow deposit from August 2015 debris flow on Tahoma Creek (from a photo by Scott Beason on 09/14/2015)
LATEST EARTHQUAKES:
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier
:
56

LAST 5 EARTHQUAKES:

  1. Mon, Sep 26, 2022, 10:05:50 GMT
    12 hours 5 minutes 1 seconds ago
    1.636 km (1.017 mi) S of summit
    Magnitude: 0.4
    Depth 1.7 km (1.1 mi)
    View More Info

  2. Mon, Sep 26, 2022, 01:16:03 GMT
    20 hours 54 minutes 48 seconds ago
    13.216 km (8.212 mi) WNW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.3
    Depth 7.8 km (4.8 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Sun, Sep 25, 2022, 19:02:31 GMT
    1 day 3 hours 8 minutes 19 seconds ago
    0.318 km (0.198 mi) N of summit
    Magnitude: 0.0
    Depth 1.6 km (1.0 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Sun, Sep 25, 2022, 16:27:04 GMT
    1 day 5 hours 43 minutes 46 seconds ago
    2.576 km (1.600 mi) S of summit
    Magnitude: 0.6
    Depth 1.1 km (0.7 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Sun, Sep 25, 2022, 14:40:29 GMT
    1 day 7 hours 30 minutes 22 seconds ago
    0.492 km (0.306 mi) E of summit
    Magnitude: 0.3
    Depth 0.9 km (0.6 mi)
    View More Info

MISC:
Currently, this site has approximately
13,000,130
total data points in its database!
 
1 RANDOM PUBLICATION AND THE 5 LATEST PUBLICATIONS ADDED TO THE DATABASE:
  1. Poland et al. (2017) Volcano geodesy in the Cascade arc, USA
    Experience during historical time throughout the Cascade arc and the lack of deep-seated deformation prior to the two most recent eruptions of Mount St. Helens might lead one to infer that Cascade volcanoes are generally quiescent and, specifically, show no signs of geodetic change until they are about to erupt. Several decades of geodetic data, however, tell a different story. Ground- and space-based deformation studies have identified surface displacements at five of the 13 major Cascade arc volcanoes that lie in the USA (Mount Baker, Mount St. Helens, South Sister, Medicine Lake, and Lassen volcanic center). No deformation has been detected at five volcanoes (Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Newberry Volcano, Crater Lake, and Mount Shasta), and there are not sufficient data at the remaining three (Glacier Peak, Mount Adams, and Mount Jefferson) for a rigorous assessment. In addition, gravity change has been measured at two of the three locations where surveys have been repeated (Mount St. Helens and Mount Baker show changes, while South Sister does not). Broad deformation patterns associated with heavily forested and ice-clad Cascade volcanoes are generally characterized by low displacement rates, in the range of millimeters to a few centimeters per year, and are overprinted by larger tectonic motions of several centimeters per year. Continuous GPS is therefore the best means of tracking temporal changes in deformation of Cascade volcanoes and also for characterizing tectonic signals so that they may be distinguished from volcanic sources. Better spatial resolution of volcano deformation can be obtained through the use of campaign GPS, semipermanent GPS, and interferometric synthetic aperture radar observations, which leverage the accumulation of displacements over time to improve signal to noise. Deformation source mechanisms in the Cascades are diverse and include magma accumulation and withdrawal, post-emplacement cooling of recent volcanic deposits, magmatic-tectonic interactions, and loss of volatiles plus densification of magma. The Cascade Range thus offers an outstanding opportunity for investigating a wide range of volcanic processes. Indeed, there may be areas of geodetic change that have yet to be discovered, and there is good potential for addressing a number of important questions about how arc volcanoes work before, during, and after eruptions by continuing geodetic research in the Cascade Range.
  2. Beason et al. (2022) A vanishing landscape: Current trends for the glaciers of Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA
    Mount Rainier is the most glaciated volcano in the Cascade Range of the western United States and has more glacial ice on its edifice than all other volcanoes in the Cascade Range combined. Measuring rates of glacial ice loss during warming climates are critical to understanding the future impacts to riparian areas downslope of the glaciers, sediment production to braided rivers, aquatic impacts due to increasing stream temperatures, and many other important areas for park resource management. Glacial area has been delineated many times in the last century; most importantly in 1896, 1913, 1971, 1994, 2009, and, most recently, in 2015. Each of these extents represents a snapshot of the surface area of the volcano occupied by glacial ice during those years and provides an opportunity to visualize the health of the glaciers in the park over time. Using aerially derived Structure from Motion (SfM) data acquired in September 2021, as well as other satellite and aerial imagery, glacier area for each of the 29 named glacial features is updated for Mount Rainier and presented here. From these source data, we have mapped not only the extent of ice but estimate the volume of ice from methods developed by other researchers in the past. Overall, our data shows a continuation of gradual yet accelerating loss of glacial ice at Mount Rainier, resulting in significant changes in regional ice volume over the last century. Regional climate change is affecting all glacial features at Mount Rainier, but mostly those smaller cirque glaciers and discontinuous glaciers on the south aspect of the volcano.
  3. Muneer (2022) Advanced suspended sediment sampling and simulation of sediment pulses to better predict fluvial geomorphic change in river networks
    Sediment, an integral part of rivers and watersheds, is eroded from, stored in, and transported through various watershed components. Rivers often receive sediment in the form of episodic, discrete pulses from a variety of natural and anthropogenic processes, this sediment can be transported downstream along the bed or suspended in the water column. Most sediment measurements are focused on the component suspended in the water column. Recent advances in data collection techniques have substantially increased both the resolution and spatial scale of data on suspended sediment dynamics, which is helpful in linking small, site-scale measurements of transport processes in the field with large-scale modeling efforts. Part of this research evaluates the accuracy of the latest laser diffraction instrument for suspended-sediment measurement in rivers, LISST-SL2 for measuring suspended sediment concentration (SSC), particle size distribution (PSD), and velocity by comparing to concurrent physical samples analyzed in a lab for SSC and PSD, and velocity measured using an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) at 11 sites in Washington and Virginia during 2018-2020. Another part of this work employs a 1-D river network, bed material transport model to investigate the magnitude, timing, and persistence of downstream changes due to the introduction of sediment pulses in a linear river network. We specifically focus on comparing bed responses between mixed and uniform grain size sediment pulses. Then the model capability is utilized to explore the control of hydrograph structure on debris flow sediment transport through a more complex river network at different time horizons. Another part of this work investigates the effect of differences in spatial distribution of debris flow sediment input to the network by analyzing corresponding tributary and mainstem characteristics. Based on an extensive dataset, our results highlight the need for a correction of the raw LISST-SL2 measurements to improve the estimation of effective density and particle size distribution with the help of a physical sample. Simulation results from the river network model show that bed response is primarily influenced by the sediment-pulse grain size and distribution. Intermediate mixed-size pulses are likely to have the largest downstream impact because finer sizes translate quickly and coarser sizes (median bed gravel size and larger) disperse slowly. Furthermore, a mixed-size pulse, with a smaller median grain size than the bed, increases bed mobility more than a uniform-size pulse. While investigating the hydrologic control on debris flow simulation, this study finds that differences between transport by a 30-year daily hydrograph and simplified hydrographs were greatest in the first few years, but errors decreased to around 10% after 10 years. Our simulation results highlight that the sequence of flows (initial high/low flow) is less important for transport of finer sediment. We show that such network-scale modeling can quantitatively identify geomorphically significant network characteristics for efficient transport from tributaries to the mainstem, and eventually to the outlet. Results suggest that watershed area and slope characteristics are important to predict aggradation hotspots in a network. However, to predict aggradation and fluvial geomorphic responses to variations in sediment supply from river network characteristics more confidently, more widespread (in several other river networks) model applications with field validation would be useful. This work has important implications for river management, as it allows us to better predict geomorphically significant tributaries and potential impact on downstream locations, which are important for river biodiversity. Model results lead the way to use of simplified flow hydrographs for different timescales, which is crucial in large-scale modeling as it is often restricted by computational capacity. Finally, given the ability for reliable quantification of a high-resolution time-series of different suspended-sediment characteristics, in-stream laser diffraction offers great potential to advance our understanding of suspended-sediment transport.
  4. Stenner et al. (2022) Development and persistence of hazardous atmospheres in a glaciovolcanic cave system: Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
    Glaciovolcanic cave systems, including fumarolic ice caves, can present variable atmospheric hazards. The twin summit craters of Mount Rainier, Washington, USA, host the largest fumarolic ice cave system in the world. The proximity of fumarole emissions in these caves to thousands of mountaineers each year can be hazardous. Herein we present the first assessment and mapping of the atmospheric hazards in the Mount Rainier caves along with a discussion on the microclimates involved in hazard formation and persistence. Our results are compared to applicable life-safety standards for gas exposure in ambient air. We also describe unique usage of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) at high altitude. In both craters, subglacial CO2 traps persist in multiple locations due to fumarole output, limited ventilation, and cave morphology. CO2 concentrations, calculated from O2 depletion, reached maximum values of 10.3 % and 24.8 % in the East and West Crater Caves, respectively. The subglacial CO2 lake in West Crater Cave was persistent, with atmospheric pressure as the main factor influencing CO2 concentrations. O2 displacement exacerbated by low O2 partial pressure at the high summit altitude revealed additional cave passages that can be of immediate danger to life and health (IDLH), with O2 partial pressures as low as 68.3 mmHg. Planning for volcanic research or rescue in or around similar cave systems can be assisted by considering the implications of atmospheric hazards. These findings highlight the formation mechanisms of hazardous atmospheres, exploration challenges, the need for mountaineering and public awareness, and the broader implications to volcanic hazard assessment and research in these environments.
  5. Sobolewski et al. (2022) Ongoing genesis of a novel glaciovolcanic cave system in the crater of Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA
    Mount St. Helens, one of the highest-risk volcanoes in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, hosts a novel system of glaciovolcanic caves that has formed around the 2004-2008 lava dome. From 2014 to 2021 a multidisciplinary research team systematically explored and mapped these new caves to ascertain their characteristics. Air and fumarole temperatures, volume flow rates, and wind regimes were also monitored. More than 3.0 km of cave passages have formed in a semicircular pattern in the volcanic crater and provide an opportunity to (1) observe cave development over time, (2) identify low temperature fumaroles as the main driving force for cave formation, (3) verify the impact of seasonal snow accumulation on cave climate, and (4) assess heat distribution in subglacial and subaerial portions of the new lava dome. Glaciovolcanic cave systems on Mount St. Helens are comparatively young (<10 years) and the most dynamic in the Pacific Northwest. Observed cave expansion during the study suggests ongoing genesis and future formation of interconnected systems. However, further expansion may also be limited by increasing fumarole temperatures towards the upper parts of the lava dome, cave instability due to snow overload, or variable subglacial volcanic heat output. New glaciovolcanic cave system development provides a unique barometer of volcanic activity on glacier-mantled volcanoes and to study the subglacial environment. We present the results of eight years of initial study within this dynamic cave system, and discuss a pathway towards future longitudinal analyses.
  6. 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.

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
Friday, September 23, 2022, 2:20 PM PDT (Friday, September 23, 2022, 21:20 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: Over the last week, earthquakes were located at Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Three Sisters, consistent with background seismicity levels at each volcano. Field crews continued work at Mount Rainier installing new geophysical monitoring sites and performing maintenance on existing infrastructure.

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