Observations of Washington State Landscapes, Geology, Geography, Ecology, History and Land Use
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
An Erratic Revealed
I spotted this glacial erratic just starting to be revealed by erosion along the shore of Hood Canal. This erratic is a block of the British Columbia Coast Range Batholith, one of the largest granite-diorite magma areas in the world. Think of Yosemite and the granite cliffs there and you have a good picture of the geology of the BC Coast Range. The big melt that caused these magma bodies to form took place between 75 million and 100 million years ago.
The BC Coast Range is a high range with lots of deep winter snow and many glaciers and ice fields. Those ice fields expanded and flowed south into the Puget Sound area and the Strait of Juan de Fuca several times over the past couple of million years. The last glacial advance took place between approximately 20,000 and 14,000 years ago. The flowing ice carried blocks of granitic rock like this one to Hood Canal. Erratics are a common site along the shorelines where the fine silts, clays and sand are washed away leaving the boulders behind on the beach. I spent some time working in the BC Coast Range traversing the margins of plutons and batholiths and always like seeing rocks from that area scattered on Washington beaches. Almost like seeing old friends as they bring back memories of good geo adventures.
Dan McShane is an engineering geologist with Stratum Group, a geology and environmental consulting company based in Bellingham, Washington. Dan has been reading Washington State landscapes since driving across the Horse Heaven Hills with his father and brother in 1970. Dan's wife has started painting Washington landscapes. The intent of this blog is to help all Washington travelers better understand the landscapes we see and share field observations.