Sunday, May 3, 2015

Travel and break in posting

I have been traveling and hence the lack of posts. When I have been connected, I had a bit of lingering business to attend to as well so posts have taken a break.

Travel always involves some geology. 55 years after what is now the Washington coast got slammed by a large earthquake and a large tsunami, a similar event impacted the far west coast of Europe. Hence a clue as to my ventures in Zitellini and others (1998).

Friday, April 24, 2015

King County LiDAR/Aerial Swipe Images

EM alerted me to this great swipe image images between LiDAR and aerial views the King County has put up:

Fun to play around with. The LiDAR imagery at closer range breaks down a bit compared to cleaner imagery one can also get from King County but still a great demonstration that captures why Dave Montgomery says it is like getting a new pair of glasses.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Siren Call: Sea Lions at Craven Rock

When I fist saw this glacial erratic off the east shore of Marrowstone Island I thought it might be a layered sandstone. However, before I got close enough to see it better I could hear it. The slopes of the giant boulder are just right for hauling out and enjoying some sunshine. 

Craven Rock with bluffs of the west shore of Whidbey Island and Mount Baker

The erratic is at least 40 feet across based on high resolution aerial photographs. The rock is about 400 feet off shore. As such this rock has posed a navigation hazard.

Sinking SS North Pacific after hitting Craven Rock (Puget Sound Maritime Historic Society)

SS Pacific 1880 (Puget Sound Maritime Historic Society)

The rock is named after a lieutenant in the Wilkes Expedition. Wilkes originally named Marrowstone Island after Craven, but the original name by Vancouver was the one that stuck for the island with Craven being left the honor of the large erratic. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hill Road South of Coupeville

On returning from ventures on the Olympic Peninsula via the Port Townsend to Keystone Ferry I often take a slight detour from the more direct route. I turn off of the main road, Engle Road, onto Hill Road. Hill Road turns into a narrow lane that follows the top edge of the shoreline bluff through wind blown old Douglas firs. 

The views open up to the west as well as curving coast line.

The road follows the coastal curve and then descends to the beach.

The beach has a parking area and trails or a beach walk can be taken to continue along the coast. The sandy prairie slope has cactus. The combination of exposure, low rain and exceeding well drained soils has evolved into a mini ecosystem.

The road switches back up to the top of the bluff and heads through perhaps the oldest farmland in Washington State.  Deep black silty soils that formed initially as a tidal bay with glacial ice just to the north during the last glacial period retreat.

First Nations peoples utilized this rick soil for camas production. Evdence of burning to maintain the prairie suggests farm land use for over 2,000 years. Early Euro Americans began farming these fields very early in the American settlement of the area.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pacific Orangetip and other notes

In my past I used to hunt butterflies. Some of my old skills and instincts still kick in when a butterfly flutters by. I did not do very well getting a picture of this Anthocharis sara  Pacific orangetip (see 

Anthocharis sara  Pacific orangetip 

This butterfly caught my attention mostly because it is indicative of open meadow habitat. I observed this butterfly on a southwest facing slope, with loose outwash sand soil, and in the rain shadow of the Olympics. A sort of mini terrain of central California coastal habitat that brought back my butterfly instinctive reactions.

I failed to get a picture of the orangetip on a flower, but it was on this flower that appears to be a brassicaceae (I am pushing my plant skills):

Down the slope I came across a flower I did recognize, but not the same as the above:

Brassica rapa

Brassica rapa

Brassica rapa is a prevalent spring flower of California; however, it is not native in North America, but is now firmly established. It is listed as a noxious weed on some lists. The NRCS does not have it in Jefferson County where I saw it, but someone working on removing noxious weeds at the base of the slope was including it in weeds to be pulled along with poison hemlock.

Landslide Setbacks Perspective

In doing some work related research associated with some policy/policy implementation I came across an email within a public document from Jon Koloski. I have been working to purge the concept of standard buffers from landslide hazard regulations or what I prefer to call setbacks so as not to confuse landslides with wetland buffers. It was nice to see another like minded geologist on the matter.

"There is not any definitive science that supports a prescriptive buffer of any dimension for separation of development from the edge of a “marine bluff hazard area” or any other type of landslide hazard area. All of the buffers in use today in land use regulatory documents are based strictly on “administrative convenience” and/or on the belief that some measure of a buffer of separation improves safety to the potentially impacted public or to property….T(t)here are myriad factors that influence specific applicable hazard conditions and those vary so much from site to site, that individual investigation is realistically the only way to characterize an appropriate buffer or setback. The County must recognize that generalization simply has to be based on some factor such as administrative convenience". - Koloski, Jon W., LG, LEG, Senior Principal, Co-Founder of GeoEngineers. Email correspondence to Thurston County dated 1/25/2005.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Double Crested Cormorants in the New Anthropocene

Cormorants seem to be being doing well in the Anthropocene taking advantage of structures built by man for habitat. I spotted this cormorant perched on the backside of a bumper at the Anacortes ferry landing.
This cormorant was keeping a sharp eye out for northwest crows seeking untended eggs perhaps. The ferry boat posed no threat nor did the guy in a car with a camera.

Cormorants are also thriving on the manmade islands at the Columbia River estuary. So much so that the Army Corp of Engineers has moved to cull their numbers cormorants/DCCO_EIS_Overview_FS.pdf.