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Geologic Publications for Mount Rainier

Debris flow, debris avalanche and flood hazards at and downstream from Mount Rainier, Washington

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Author(s): Kevin M. Scott, James W. Vallance

Document Type: Hydrologic Atlas 729
Publisher: United States Geological Survey
Published Year: 1995
Pages: 9
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

Mount Rainier volcano has produced many large debris flows and debris avalanches during the last 10,000 years. These flows have periodically traveled more than 100 kilometers from the volcano to inundate parts of the now-populated Puget Sound Lowland. Meteorological floods also have caused damage, but future effects will be partly mitigated by reservoirs. Mount Rainier presents the most severe flow risks of any volcano in the United States. Volcanic debris flows (lahars) are of two types: (1) cohesive, relatively high clay flows originating as debris avalanches, and (2) noncohesive flows with less clay that begin most commonly as meltwater surges. Three case histories represent important subpopulations of flows with known magnitudes and frequencies. The risks of each subpopulation may be considered for general planning and design. A regional map illustrates the extent of inundation by the case-history flows, the largest of which originated as debris avalanches and moved from Mount Rainier to Puget Sound. The paleohydrologic record of these past flows indicates the potential for inundation by future flows from the volcano. A map of the volcano and its immediate vicinity shows examples of smaller debris avalanches and debris flows in the 20th century.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Scott and Vallance (1995) or (Scott and Vallance, 1995)

References Citation:
Scott, K.M. and J.W. Vallance, 1995, Debris flow, debris avalanche and flood hazards at and downstream from Mount Rainier, Washington: Hydrologic Atlas 729, United States Geological Survey, 9 p..