Friday, December 19, 2014

Dirt and Views from Mid December Field Work

A bit short of content and posts due to work and travel and field time. The last two days were classic western Washington mid winter field days - a bit wet, a bit windy and the days are really short. Work was a mix of figuring out dirt and with cloudy views.

Southern tip end of the Bolton Peninsula with
Quilcene Bay on the left and Dabob Bay on the right

Oxidized outwash and drift

Where did this pebble come from? Non Olympic source

Another cut slope - compact glacial advance outwash

Test pit digging to confirm or disprove a theory

Drift plain west of Port Townsend

Looking down a 300-foot bluff and recent slope failure along Strait of Juan de Fuca

Wind riffling the water on the Strait

Whidbey Island, San Juans and Mount Erie 

Monday, December 15, 2014

SR 530 (Hazel/Oso) Landslide Commission Report

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee set up a landslide commission to review the Hazel/Oso Landslide. The commission report came out on December 15: SR530 Landslide Commission Final Report.pdf
One of the recommendations is to further fund landslide hazard mapping, "The SR 530 Landslide highlights the need to incorporate landslide hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessments into land-use planning, and to expand and refine geologic and geohazard mapping throughout the State. The lack of current, high-quality data seriously hampers efforts under the Growth Management Act".
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has already developed a robust budget request for funding mapping efforts that will be submitted to the legislators this winter. It is a tough budget year. Where landslide risk and costs associated with it fall will remain to be seen.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Politics Sunday: Cromnibus Notes and Torture

I have been a bit into deep tunneling into code language and how it relates to geology. The consequences of a single sentence or word associated with geologic risk.

So excuse the politics, but I did have a political era in my past that still comes out at times.

I do enjoy political drama and Cromnibus has provided some. The best part are the riders that are attached to get certain things done that would never get done unless done in this manner. Depending on one's perspective it is not all bad or alternatively it is horrible.

Sarah Kliff explains how Republicans and Democrats worked together to solve an Affordable Care Act taxing problem in a very wonk loving post cromnibus-obamacare-blues-mlr. So Cromnibus provided deep cover for getting something done that our political tribalism would otherwise never allow.

Financial wonky Senator Warren points out much of our political positioning is pure rhetoric. How many Tea Party backed politicians would support using tax dollars to bail out big banks?

Then there was the Torture Report. Yes, our leaders supported and encouraged torture,  "I'd do it again in a minute." - Dick Cheney on EIT. Call it what it is; Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) is torture. And our country did it. And the Senate report shows that it did not provide the results the supporters of torture claimed. But I am sure the torture supporters will continue to claim that it worked. Perhaps they have no choice as it would otherwise mean pushing humus up a victim's ass accomplished nothing but torture for torture sake. And keep in mind that some of the torture victims were completely innocent and had nothing to do with terrorism. Matt at Vox points out we should call it what it is eits-are-torture. Words do matter.

Back to my own policy word selections.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Snow and Spire: Just Right for the Season

A bit of an opinion and a strong one at that: There is no better "coffee table" book featuring the Washington State Landscape than Snow and Spire. Washington State has been blessed with some remarkable photographers that have been inspired by our landscapes and have successfully passed that inspiration on to others.  

The images in Snow and Spire surpass words. There is one image in the book of a place I had once been. I recognized the location immediately. I had gone there alone. On that trip I did not see another human being for a week. At the time I could not believe there was such a landscape. In my memory the sites I saw fall into the border between reality and dreams. It was a foolish dangerous trip. Get the book - it is a much better way:

I came across this video of John's ventures. Besides the wonder of the images, John has been making some significant contributions to understanding the glaciers in the North Cascades.

Snow and Spire - The Aerial Photography of John Scurlock from Chris Newley on Vimeo.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update on Washaway

With winter high tides combined with very stormy conditions, the Pacific Ocean is taking some more of Washington State along with a few homes at Washaway Beach

This has been an ongoing erosion problem that I wrote up after a visit in 2010.



HS also has a set of posts

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Egan Chasing Shadows


I have accumulated some books on the Washington State Landscape that deserve a write up hence wallula-gap and geology-of-san-juan-islands.
Timothy Egan took on Edward Curtis. Curtis moved to Washington State and started a photography business in Seattle. His fame is the photographs he took of First Nations peoples. Curtis' genius was recognizing that we would soon loose multiple cultures unless he captured those cultures before they were gone. He was not the only one to recognize this need, but he may have done more than anyone else capturing the shadows of the cultures that once inhabited our landscapes before they were gone.
Egan is one of our own and his perspective is appreciated. And the book manages to capture the capturer of shadows and another time so easily forgotten of the early days of the second nation in the Pacific Northwest and what is now Washington State. I particularly liked learning more about Asahel Curtis, Edward Curtis' brother as I have used his photographs in my own work. A. Curtis captured different images - numerous of geologic and historic importance and some that captured the shaping of our current landscapes.
I know that I have been frustrated at the loss of understanding of what once was the Pacific Northwest, but Curtis captured at least a part of that in his images and Egan gives this important work an added perspective. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wallula Gap Book

I have had this book for a couple of years. Where the Great River Bends is a compilation of natural and historic essays on Wallula Gap.

I have the personal opinion that the Gap may be the most underappreciated landscape features in Washington State. This book of essays on the geology, plant communities, and history further enhanced my own appreciation of this remarkable landscape. Good geology including how the gap was initially cut, not by the Columbia River, but by the Clearwater River - currently a tributary of the Snake. The river in the gap is slackwater from McNary Dam downstream of the gap. The book does a great job of explaining the secondary consequences of the river no longer have the massive floods through the gap followed by much lower water - not just on the river but on the surrounding uplands. As windy as the area northeast of the gap is, the dust and blowing sand are much diminished from the old days. Pacific Northwest history passed through the gap from Lewis and Clark, Hudson Bay Company traders, naturalist David Douglas and explorer John Thompson.  Today a great deal of commerce passes through the gap via barge and the railroads that line both sides of the gap. This is the route of the recently famous very heavy Powder River coal trains on the way to the coal port in British Columbia.

In a different era I ran and hiked the rim of the west side of the high cliffs above the Columbia River at this water gap accessing the area via back roads from Kennewick. It was one of the pleasures of living in Kennewick to have such a landscape nearby.