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Friday, January 27, 2023
Today is day 27 of 2023 and
day 119 of Water Year 2023
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: 01/27/2023 03:00 PM

30.2° F
Wind: WSW (241°) @ 4 G 8 mph
Snow Depth: 104 in (84% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 1.16 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
As of: 01/27/2023 04:00 PM

38° F
Snow Depth: 4 in (14% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.68 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
AT PARADISE (5,400')
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Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge during the August 2015 debris flow (from a photo by Scott Beason on 08/13/2015)
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier


  1. Fri, Jan 27, 2023, 15:17:20 GMT
    8 hours 59 minutes 38 seconds ago
    10.386 km (6.454 mi) W of summit
    Magnitude: 0.9
    Depth 8.2 km (5.1 mi)
    View More Info

  2. Thu, Jan 26, 2023, 23:22:02 GMT
    1 day 54 minutes 56 seconds ago
    12.598 km (7.828 mi) W of summit
    Magnitude: 0.0
    Depth 10.8 km (6.7 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Thu, Jan 26, 2023, 05:24:22 GMT
    1 day 18 hours 52 minutes 35 seconds ago
    20.492 km (12.733 mi) NW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.8
    Depth 5.5 km (3.4 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Wed, Jan 25, 2023, 03:19:48 GMT
    2 days 20 hours 57 minutes 9 seconds ago
    0.418 km (0.260 mi) WNW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.4
    Depth 0.2 km (0.1 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Tue, Jan 24, 2023, 06:16:20 GMT
    3 days 18 hours 38 seconds ago
    0.647 km (0.402 mi) SSW of summit
    Magnitude: -0.1
    Depth -0.6 km (-0.4 mi)
    View More Info

Currently, this site has approximately
total data points in its database!
  1. Burtchard et al. (2017) Mining Glacier Basin: History of the Glacier Basin Mining District, Mount Rainier National Park
    Because of uplifted geological exposures, mountains have long attracted miners in search of commercially valuable minerals. Mount Rainier is no exception. Its great height and massive breadth dominate west-central Washington's Cascade Mountain landscape – a siren beckoning to those seeking mining wealth at the close of the 19th Century. Used seasonally by Native American populations for thousands of years, Mount Rainier became a focus of prospecting activity in the late 19th Century. Even though it generally disappointed in the end, the mountain's mining allure was difficult to resist in those early days. Its rugged terrain, deeply dissected river valleys, exposed side-wall slopes, and high mountain basins appealed to would-be miners and entrepreneurs moving west with the rapidly expanding American agro-industrial system – a process accelerated by the Alaskan Klondike gold rush via the Port of Seattle in the late 1800s. By the time Mount Rainier National Park was founded in 1899, over 100 mining claims had been filed at various points around the mountain. Located at about 6,000 feet on Mount Rainier's northeastern slope, Glacier Basin was the most prominent of the many locations where mineral wealth was sought. As early as 1896-1897, prospectors and miners followed trails up the White River and its Inter Fork tributary to stake over 40 claims, and their dreams of riches, along the seam between old and young Mount Rainier sediments exposed in Glacier Basin's valley walls. Figure 1.1 above shows the basin landscape as it appeared in 2013. Figure 1.2 shows its location, and the position of the White River Road that served it, in the still-young Mount Rainier National Park in 1919. With sharply defined contrasts in elevation and color, and a commanding view-scape to the east, Glacier Basin's physical setting is visually stunning. While in retreat for some time, the basin's steep walls were carved by the Inter Fork glacier; still a prominent feature in the early 1900s as can be seen in this book's cover photo. The receding glacier, rain, and summer snow-melt feeds Inter Fork Creek; a White River tributary stream that flows though the center of the basin. Figure 1.1 shows the Inter Fork floodplain and boulder outwash transported by exceptionally vigorous flood events. A small meadow and pot-hole lake rests at the foot of the basin just below tree-line in the historical location of Mount Rainier Mining Company's Lower Camp. As can be seen in Figure 1.1, patchy subalpine forest covers the basin's lower slopes; giving way at higher elevation to steep and barren upper valley walls. These high valley walls, perhaps better than anywhere else on Mount Rainer, expose yellowish-brown sediments linked to the granitic Tatoosh Pluton (intermittently bearing copper and a variety of other commercially-valued minerals) overlain by gray andesitic rock associated with geologically younger (and mineral poor) Mount Rainier proper. In a sense, Glacier Basin's mining history and the 20th Century begin together. While a number of Glacier Basin claims were filed in the late 1800s, very little had been done to test their mineral content; and virtually no effort had been undertaken to extract and transport ore out of the basin through the mountain's rugged and roadless terrain. The situation began to change in 1902 when Enumclaw residents Peter Storbo and his uncle, Bernt Korssjoen, purchased over 40 previously filed Glacier Basin mining claims. Within a few years, they had established the Mount Rainier Mining Company and begun selling stock to finance their copper mining venture. Mount Rainier Mining Company (MRMC) was to remain a presence in Glacier Basin for the next 80 years; outlasting all the other mining operations as the last private inholding in Mount Rainier National Park. The park finally acquired ownership of MRMC's patented claims in 1984. Despite a robust beginning, most mining activities in Glacier Basin ended well before final National Park Service acquisition of MRMC holdings. The active and optimistic years of the early 20th Century faded in the late 1920s amidst legal entanglements and the effects of the Great Depression that soon followed. Attempts to revive the mines in World War II, and again in the 1950s, led to only limited short-term success. By the 1980s, most of the tunnels had long-since collapsed or been covered by landslide debris. Most mine-related structures had collapsed. Abandoned machinery lay scattered and rusting. Even so, mining related artifacts and features, along with archival documents, remain to tell the Glacier Basin story. It is this story, the history of mining in Glacier Basin, that is the subject of this book.
  2. Pelto (2018) How unusual was 2015 in the 1984-2015 period of the North Cascade Glacier annual mass balanace?
    In 1983, the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) began the annual monitoring of the mass balance on 10 glaciers throughout the range, in order to identify their response to climate change. Annual mass balance (Ba) measurements have continued on seven original glaciers, with an additional two glaciers being added in 1990. The measurements were discontinued on two glaciers that had disappeared and one was that had separated into several sections. This comparatively long record from nine glaciers in one region, using the same methods, offers some useful comparative data in order to place the impact of the regional climate warmth of 2015 in perspective. The mean annual balance of the NCGCP glaciers is reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), with two glaciers, Columbia and Rainbow Glacier, being reference glaciers. The mean Ba of the NCGCP glaciers from 1984 to 2015, was -0.54 m w.e.a-1 (water equivalent per year), ranging from -0.44 to -0.67 m w.e.a-1 for individual glaciers. In 2015, the mean Ba of nine North Cascade glaciers was -3.10 m w.e., the most negative result in the 32-year record. The correlation coefficient of Ba was above 0.80 between all North Cascade glaciers, indicating that the response was regional and not controlled by local factors. The probability of achieving the observed 2015 Ba of -3.10 is 0.34%.
  3. Radic et al. (2008) Analysis of scaling methods in deriving future volume evolutions of valley glaciers
    Volume–area scaling is a common tool for deriving future volume evolutions of valley glaciers and their contribution to sea-level rise. We analyze the performance of scaling relationships for deriving volume projections in comparison to projections from a one-dimensional ice-flow model. The model is calibrated for six glaciers (Nigardsbreen, Rhonegletscher, South Cascade Glacier, Sofiyskiy glacier, midre Lovénbreen and Abramov glacier). Volume evolutions forced by different hypothetical mass-balance perturbations are compared with those obtained from volume–area (V-A), volume–length (V-L) and volume–area–length (V-A-L) scaling. Results show that the scaling methods mostly underestimate the volume losses predicted by the ice-flow model, up to 47% for V-A scaling and up to 18% for V-L scaling by the end of the 100 year simulation period. In general, V-L scaling produces closer simulations of volume evolutions derived from the ice-flow model, suggesting that V-L scaling may be a better approach for deriving volume projections than V-A scaling. Sensitivity experiments show that the initial volumes and volume evolutions are highly sensitive to the choice of the scaling constants, yielding both over- and underestimates. However, when normalized by initial volume, volume evolutions are relatively insensitive to the choice of scaling constants, especially in the V-L scaling. The 100 year volume projections differ within 10% of initial volume when the V-A scaling exponent commonly assumed, γ = 1.375, is varied by −30% to +45% (γ = [0.95, 2.00]) and the V-L scaling exponent, q = 2.2, is varied by −30% to +45% (q = [1.52, 3.20]). This is encouraging for the use of scaling methods in glacier volume projections, particularly since scaling exponents may vary between glaciers and the scaling constants are generally unknown.
  4. Vallance and Sisson (2022) Geologic field-trip guide to volcanism and its interaction with snow and ice at Mount Rainier, Washington
    Mount Rainier is the Pacific Northwest's iconic volcano. At 4,393 meters and situated in the south-central Cascade Range of Washington State, it towers over cities of the Puget Lowland. As the highest summit in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier hosts 26 glaciers and numerous permanent snow fields covering 87 square kilometers and having a snow and ice volume of about 3.8 cubic kilometers. It remains by far the most heavily glacier-clad mountain in the conterminous United States despite having lost about 14 percent of its ice volume between 1970 and 2008. Five major rivers head at Mount Rainier—the White, Carbon, Puyallup, Nisqually, and Cowlitz Rivers. Because Mount Rainier is situated west of the Cascade Range crest, all of these rivers eventually turn and drain westward. The Puget Lowland, situated west to northwest of Mount Rainier, is the Pacific Northwest's most densely populated area, including Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. The Puget Lowland is now home to a population of more than 4.5 million and a vibrant economy. Mount Rainier is one of the most hazardous volcanoes in the United States, not so much because of its explosivity, but rather because of its frequent eruptions, its propensity to produce voluminous far-traveled lahars, and its proximity to large population centers of the Puget Lowland. Steep-sided, glacially carved valleys serve as lahar conduits, and even mild eruptions commonly produced large lahars that traveled into areas now populated by hundreds of thousands of people. This guide describes a five-day field trip to view the geology of Mount Rainier as it relates to volcanism and its interaction with snow and ice. Day 1 will focus on lahars in the White River valley. We will drive to Enumclaw, Washington, to begin the day then work our way back upvalley toward Mount Rainier. Day 2 concentrates on geology of the Sunrise-Glacier Basin area within Mount Rainier National Park. As part of day 2 activities, we will hike about 10 miles from Sunrise to the top of Burroughs Mountain, down into Glacier Basin, and be picked up at White River Campground. On day 3 we will pack up and move to Paradise, stopping to examine geology along Stevens Canyon Road. We will hike from Paradise along the Golden Gate Trail and eventually eastward to the former Paradise Ice Caves area (the ice caves have melted out). Day 4 involves hiking from Comet Falls trailhead to Mildred Point and return (~7 miles; 11 km), examining geology along the way. During the first half of day 5, we will visit sites on the south side of Mount Rainier to study lahar deposits, then return to the tour origin.
  5. Cutter et al. (2019) The Nisqually River: Risk assessment and recommendations for future actions
    This report is intended to assess the Nisqually River, identifying problem areas threatening park infrastructure, recommending further work, and note deficiencies and improvements to be made for the next actions taken on the project.
  6. Kellermann (2022) Developing and testing a geomorphic mapping protocol in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
    The grand landscapes and river systems of Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) are influenced by its glaciovolcanic geology and the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest. Mapping geomorphic changes is a crucial step to understanding, interacting with, and preserving the pristine environments of the Park. Geologic hazards and large-scale hydrologic events are common within park boundaries, putting infrastructure and cultural and historical sites at risk of permanent damage. In this study, I present a protocol for mapping geomorphic features remotely and in the field, and I test the protocol along an at-risk road segment along the Nisqually River. With ArcGIS Pro, I defined site boundaries with a watershed delineation, designated key geomorphic features custom to the unique environment of the Park, and assigned key attribute domains to further describe each mapped feature. Then, I mapped landform features using LiDAR and aerial imagery in Pro and used ArcGIS Online and Field Maps for in-field mapping with a mobile tablet and a backpack-mounted GNSS receiver. After extensive testing, the protocol is in its preliminary phase and ready to be applied to other park field sites for further testing and repeat mapping projects. The resulting inventory suggests that the protocol is suitable for the remote and rugged characteristics of the Park when paired with recent LiDAR data and favorable GNSS conditions. The standardized methods and taxonomy proposed in the protocol allow for recording landform changes and initial site characterization that can be used to identify locations for hazard mitigation. The protocol is repeatable, providing a standardized format useful for comparison between different locations and timescales. While the protocol is designed for the features found near Mount Rainier, it can be readily modified for other fluvial and hillslope environments. In its final form, this geomorphic mapping protocol will equip MORA geologists and resource managers with a standard approach to documenting MORA's most geologically dynamic and at-risk infrastructure and resources.

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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 27, 2023, 9:37 AM PST (Friday, January 27, 2023, 17:37 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:  Earthquakes consistent with background level activity were detected at Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Newberry during the past week. 

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:
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes:
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications:


Jon Major, Scientist-in-Charge, Cascades Volcano Observatory,

General inquiries:
Media: Ryan McClymont, PIO, USGS Office of Communications and Publishing