Saturday, April 5, 2014

Age Relations of Nearby Oso Landslide Deposits

Ralph Haugerud put to together a relative age map of some of the older landslides near the recent Oso/Hazel/Steelhead Landslide using LiDAR and cross-cutting relationships and smoothing (softening) of terrain.  
Preliminary Interpretation of Pre-2014 Landslide Deposits in the Vicinity of Oso, Washington

Note his B age assignment to the very large landslide deposit I noted on a previous post aerial-history-and-lidar-of-stilliguamish-blocking-landslide. Besides the fact that the slide to the west of the Hazel slide is so large, note that it has thus far only been modestly eroded by the river since it was deposited suggesting a relatively young age.

Tom Schroeder sent me a mark up of witness trees from a Government Land Office survey done in 1890. These surveys provide a bit of a view of the past landscape.

Witness-tree listings from GLO survey, mid October 1890

a. line tree: redcedar 24"
b. line tree: hemlock 36"
c. quarter-corner witness trees: bearberry 10"; vine maple 5"
d. line tree: redcedar 60"
e. section corner witness trees: Douglas-fir 60"; Douglas-fir 72"; Douglas-fir 60"; hemlock 16"
f. line tree: hemlock 30"
g. line tree: hemlock 24"
h. steep bluff
i. quarter-corner witness trees: hemlock 9"; hemlock 5"
j. section corner witness trees: redcedar 18"; hemlock 16"; hemlock 5"; hemlock 15"
k. line tree: redcedar 80"
l. quarter-corner witness trees: spruce 36"; maple 24"
m. line tree: Douglas-fir 70"
n. line tree: redcedar 80"
o. line tree: redcedar 48"
p. section corner WT: hemlock 30"; hemlock 12"; redcedar 36"; maple 16"
q. quarter-corner WT: maple 7"; maple 30"
r. line tree: redcedar 30"
s. section corner: red alder 7"; red alder 6" (only 2 WT because very near left bank of river)

Perhaps nothing particularly definitive, but no huge trees on the slide deposit proper in the survey suggesting that this is not a very ancient feature. Of course there could be other reasons there are no huge trees. Some ground work looking for big stumps may provide some further clues or grabbing buried wood for carbon dates under the slide deposit along the incised river bank if it they can be found.

The take away for this area is that it is geologically dynamic and if a few landslide dates can be added the frequency of these dynamic events may be better ascertained.


susan said...

I really like the idea of using bearing trees and GLO survey notes for a sense of what was on the ground 100+ years ago, in terms of landslide recognition, and what has happened since. Neat! Those big old trees and notes are full of information for many disciplines...if the trees haven't been cut down. Though it is a Federal offense to damage a bearing tree, the fine of $250 hasn't changed in more than a hundred years, the temptation is too great not to cut and get $20,000 or more for what is now a 42" diameter p. pine, and pay the fine...if you get caught. I've tried to locate some of those trees, in areas that had been logged, based on survey note descriptions and bearings from a corner. But devious loggers cut below the blaze, so what can you prove? Resource greed. Mine. I want. I take. The American way.

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

Great forensic forestry! I love the GLO field notes. To me, the deciduous component represents early primary species, which means stand replacement change at smaller intervals, maybe. Those 80 inch redcedars have been there a while. But note there are no comparable hemlocks, which could be more "climax" for this site. The alder at "s" on the toe could indicate some movement. All subject to field work. Any bearing trees in Section 12? The March 22 slide is in Section 12, right? I agree a frequency indictor would be good information to help understand historic risk intervals.

Anonymous said...

It would also be interesting for you to look at the river course that was plotted in this location during the c.1890 GLO mapping. While the configuration around the Steelhead Drive neighborhood is relatively similar to the pre-2006 event configuration of the river, the area just downstream and in the current landslide event was significantly different with the river reaching the south side of the valley before turning towards that older slide to the west.

Yone Ward said...

I looks like people knew of the danger, but they were all geology nerds and no one wants to listen to nerds because what they have to say isn't what they want to hear.