Subsurface Database Update


The Subsurface Database has been updated to include new geotechnical borings and quality water wells. This data is useful to anyone interested in subsurface geology. Lithology, layer thickness, USCS classification, links to documents, and other information can be obtained through the attribute tables. This dataset was also updated on the Subsurface Theme of the Washington Geologic Information Portal. Happy clicking!


Updated citation:

Jeschke, D. A.; Eungard, D. W.; Troost, K. G.; Wisher, A. P, 2016, Subsurface database of Washington State–GIS data: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Digital Data Series 11, version 1.2, previously released October, 2015 []

You can find all of our GIS data available for download, along with links to our map services here.

Stay tuned for more exciting changes to this database!

Peering into the earth: Geophysical techniques can find rock for forest roads — Ear to the Ground

Fresh off the stump and replete with water, fresh-cut timber is heavy stuff. A fully loaded logging truck can tip the scales at 68,000 pounds, which is the weight equivalent of approximately 17 average-size cars. To support this kind of weight, forest roads must be built strong with good, hard rock. How hard? Generally, the […]

via Peering into the earth: Geophysical techniques can find rock for forest roads — Ear to the Ground

New Map Poster Available-The Cheney-Palouse Tract of Washington’s Channeled Scablands


A new map poster is available titled The Cheney–Palouse Tract of Washington’s Channeled Scablands. Using elevation data, it highlights a remote portion of the Eastern Washington landscape shaped by catastrophic ice-age floods.

During the last ice age, a lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet formed an ice dam that blocked a major valley in what is now western Montana, creating Glacial Lake Missoula. Between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago the ice began to recede and the lake periodically breached the ice dam. These breaches created an estimated 40 catastrophic floods that flowed westward during this time period. These ice-age floods, also known as the Missoula Floods, swept across what is now eastern Washington and onward to the Pacific Ocean along the Columbia River corridor. The floods scoured the landscape on a massive scale, leaving behind scarred terrain known as the Channeled Scablands. Flood features are so huge, they can be seen from space.

This map shows the topographic evidence of the Missoula Floods on a portion of the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington known as the Cheney–Palouse scabland tract. Smooth, linear features are former channels of the floods, while the more textured land adjacent to the pathways was higher in elevation, and was thus unaffected by the flooding.

The video above transitions from an aerial photo to the map imagery. To get a better idea of the scale of the floods look at the small crop circles on the left side of the photo and compare them to the scoured flood paths.  These circles are over a half-mile in diameter!  It has been estimated that during the largest flood episodes there was 360 times the amount of water discharge than currently flows out of the Columbia River.

Flooded areas were often scoured down to bedrock, as can be seen east of Sprague Lake and the Karakul Hills. In the Cheney-Palouse scablands region, the former channels are also occupied by dozens of lakes. The largest and deepest scabland lake is Rock Lake in the northeast portion of the map.

In the area adjacent to the flooded channels, much of the landscape is covered in loess (windblown silt). Loess covers the agriculturally productive Palouse region, the area of rolling hills in the southeastern corner of the map.

This poster is available here for download. Check out our Presentation Archive for other cool products!

Landslides and Landforms Database and Portal Update


The Landslides and Landforms database has been updated in order to fix some attribution issues and its appearance on the Geology Portal  has been given a minor make-over.


Updated Citation:

Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, 2016, Landslides and landforms–GIS data, July 2016: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Digital Data Series 12, version 4.2, previously released February 2016. []

You can find all of our GIS data available for download, along with links to our map services here.




New Data on the Geology Portal

ger_pubs_data_portal_tile_240x170.pngThe Oil and Gas and the Tsunami Evacuation databases have been updated and are now available on the Geology Portal. The datasets can also be downloaded directly from our GIS & Databases webpage.

Updates to the datasets include: addition of new documents for recently abandoned  Jackson Prairie gas storage wells, addition of a new well, Yeti547, and the removal of erroneous tsunami assembly areas in the Aberdeen area.


New Citations:

Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, 2016, Oil and gas wells–GIS data, July, 2016: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, version 3.3, previously released February 2015. []

Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, 2016, Tsunami Evacuation – GIS data, July, 2016: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, version 2.1, previously released June 2015. []



June TsuInfo Now Available


This issue of TsuInfo includes articles on:



Also featured are tsunami project updates, news, newly published research, and upcoming events

Find this month’s issue here:

TSUINFO ALERT IS A BI-MONTHLY newsletter that links scientists, emergency responders, government officials, and community planners to the latest tsunami news and research. This newsletter is published by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources on behalf of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a state/federal partnership funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is made possible by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency via the Washington Military Department, Division of Emergency Management.

Landslide Hazard Geologists at Work

cvo_groupLast month, landslide hazard geologists from the DNR Division of Geology and Earth Resources (DGER) attended a landslide conference hosted by the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) and Indonesian Center for Volcanic and Geologic Hazard Mapping at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. To promote greater cooperation among state and federal agencies, and reduce potential landslide losses, the USGS also invited landslide geologists from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Resources and our program.


Geologists enter now-abandoned Aldercrest Drive.

After two days of workshops discussing programs and projects, we went on two field trips; the first day we traveled to the Bonneville landslide in the Columbia River Gorge and the Eliot debris flow off of Mount Hood. The next day those of us at the conference from DGER led attendees on a field trip to the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide. Aldercrest-Banyon (a neighborhood in Kelso, Washington) experienced a large, slow-moving landslide in 1998 that eventually damaged or destroyed 138 homes.

We had the honor of meeting Don Matheson, a former planner for the city of Kelso, who lost his home to the landslide. Mr. Matheson showed us around the now-abandoned neighborhood to view the slide’s headscarp and damage firsthand. He stressed the importance of clear communication between planners and geologists so that the planners have a full understanding of the methods and protocols geologists use to map hazards.


We also met with Dr. Scott Burns, a Portland State University geology professor with an extensive background in landslides, who participated in the investigation of the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide. Dr. Burns shared his photos and maps of the site, and showed us some of the features of the massive slide.

Geo Cross Section_edit

The Aldercrest-Banyon landslide affected many people, and forever changed the community of Kelso. Many in the neighborhood saw their homes become worthless because insurance plans did not cover landslides.  While several homes still stand adjacent to the landslide, the many lots where homes were removed have been transformed by the remaining neighbors into a park-like setting.


Our goal as landslide hazard geologists is to help towns and cities make better planning decisions so that similar events do not happen again. Meeting regularly with other organizations that perform similar research helps ensure that we can all stay at the top of the current technology, understanding, and methodologies used to help others make critical land-use decisions.

More information about the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide can be found in the DGER 2004 field trip guide:

Wegmann, Karl W., compiler, 2004, Geologic field trip to the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide and Mount St. Helens, Washington, Part 1–Stevenson to Castle Rock: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, 24 p.


DNR mapping tool shows hazards you might face in Cascadia event — Ear to the Ground

Thousands of emergency responders, community leaders and soldiers will be practicing how to respond to the aftermath of a Cascadia subduction zone megaquake and tsunami this week. Called “Cascadia Rising,” the exercise will provide those responders scenarios of damage that could stem from an event on the 600-mile-long subduction fault that runs along the coasts […]

via DNR mapping tool shows hazards you might face in Cascadia event — Ear to the Ground

Volcano Profile: Mount Adams


Location: Yakima County, WA

Elevation: 3,742 m (12,277 ft)


Mount Adams is volumetrically the largest volcano in the Pacific Northwest. It is actually a cluster of volcanic vents that erupted andesitic lava from the vent cluster rather than a single vent. The Mount Adams system is one of the youngest in the Cascade Range and is situated further inland than most Cascade volcanoes.

Distribution of lava flows and lahars mapped at the surface compared to hazard zones (gray shaded areas). Much of the volcanic deposits have been either eroded or buried by rivers, glaciers, and human development.


There have been no historical eruptions in the Mount Adams volcanic field. The volcanic center first erupted between 520,000 and 500,000 years ago, and continued up to about 1,000 years ago. However, there were a series of debris avalanches and lahars between ~600 and 300 years ago.

Hydrothermal alteration is present on the main cone as well as at numerous locations along the slope. Fumarole activity was reported at the summit from miners trying to extract sulfur from the crater in the 1930s, but later reconnaissance trips did not reveal any fumaroles—only the faint smell of sulfur.

Are You Volcano Ready?

  • Get to know your local volcano’s hazards
  • Register for notifications about the volcano’s activity
  • Make a plan to prepare your entire family for an emergency



Visit the USGS website for more information on how to be volcano ready, view interpretive signs, and find lahar evacuation routes.

Click on the image (left) for a link to the poster.

Further Reading



Volcano Hazards in the Mount Adams Region




Thanks for following along with Volcano Preparedness Month. We hope you had a blast!

Meet our New Landslide Hazards Program

Washington’s widely varying climate and topography along with complex geology creates many areas that are prone to landslides.  Identifying past landslides is the best way to identify future landslide hazards.

After the devastating SR530 “Oso” Landslide in March 2014, the state legislature recognized the need for a greater emphasis on landslide mapping. Resources were allocated to the Department of Natural Resources to assemble a group of geologists who specialize in landslides in order to increase  understanding and awareness of this destructive natural hazard.

What We Do

The Landslide Hazards Program is part of the Division of Geology and Earth Resources (DGER) within the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). We use a combination of cutting-edge, computer-based mapping as well as fieldwork to identify landslides. We are implementing a mapping protocol first developed and put into practice by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.


DGER geologists on a recent boat survey of the Pierce County shoreline, with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

Pilot Project: Pierce County

For any landslide mapping project, high-quality lidar is a necessity. For the Pierce County Project, this data was fortunately already available. We used the terrain models in conjunction with geographical information systems (GIS) to remotely identify and delineate potential and known landslides. Next, we assigned each of the potential landslides with low, medium, or high confidence values to denote the certainty of their presence on the landscape. We field checked a percentage of the landslides to gather more information about the local geology.


Above: Map of the current landslide inventory (blue) and the Pierce County pilot project study area (orange).

We met with Pierce County officials and asked them to prioritize areas of their county for which they would be interested in obtaining a detailed inventory of landslides. We are currently working on producing a detailed landslide inventory, concentrating on areas that present the highest hazard to people and infrastructure. Once complete, the detailed inventory can be used in landslide susceptibility mapping.

Future susceptibility mapping will allow us to make landslide hazard maps for a municipality or area of interest. These maps will combine our inventory of existing landslides with areas our models show are likely to have landslides in the future.

After we have identified areas that are susceptible to landslides, we will begin vulnerability mapping. This last phase uses additional data, such as the value of structures in susceptible areas, miles of road through at-risk areas, and more.

What’s in it for You

The outcome of all of this mapping is GIS and map products that city and county planners, community leaders, emergency managers, and you can use to make informed decisions about use of landslide-susceptible areas. We are also developing a Homeowners’ Guide to Landslides, which will provide information about how landslides are triggered, warning signs that landslide activity is occurring, and how you can reduce your risk.


DGER geologists. Clockwise from left: Kara Jacobacci, Kate Mickelson, Stephen Slaughter, Trevor Contreras, and Alyssa Biel.

Who We Are

We are five full-time geologists with a background in landslides. Combined, we have over 25 years of landslide geology experience.


Program Coordinator: Stephen Slaughter

A Washington native, I have earned a BS and MS in geology from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. I started with the DNR in 2004 and have worked in landslide hazards for nearly my entire career. I earned my Engineering Geologists license in 2008 and am the program coordinator for the Landslide Hazards Program.

Alyssa Biel

I moved here from the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. I earned my BS in geology with a minor in geospatial technology at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where I researched the Cook Lake, WY landslide. I continued to work on landslides during my job with the USDA Forest Service before coming to the DNR.

Trevor Contreras

I grew up in Oregon, attended the University of Oregon for my BS and MS, and have 14 years of experience in geophysics, groundwater, geologic hazards, and geologic mapping. I earned my engineering geology license in 2013 and serve the landslide hazards program with my knowledge of glacial landforms and deposits of the Puget Lowland, and slope stability issues in working forests.

Kara Jacobacci

I’m an East-Coast native. I have a BS in geology from the University of Massachusetts and a MS in earth and climate science from the University of Maine. I specialized in landslide evaluation in Maine’s glacial stratigraphy. After working as an intern in North Cascades National Park in fall 2015, I decided the Pacific Northwest was an awesome place and moved across the country.

Kate Mickelson

I’m a Colorado native with a BS in geology from the University of Colorado and an MS in geology from Portland State University. My Masters’ thesis focused on using lidar to create landslide inventory and susceptibility maps for a watershed in the Oregon Coast Range. I spent the last six years working on landslide hazards at the Oregon Department of Geology before crossing the border to work for DGER.