Washington Field Trip, August 2014

washington Field trip 9
Natalia Zakharova looks on as other students observe beds of chert.

Lamont graduate students have a proud history of organizing geological field trips that complement our academic education and nourish interpersonal and observational skills. In that tradition, we conducted a student field trip in August 2014 to explore the geology of the Pacific Northwest. 

This region showcases a varied set of natural features with locations of interest for every field of Earth science. From high-latitude rainforests and glacier-carved mountain ranges to ophiolite complexes, active stratovolcanoes and the greatest past (and future?) earthquakes seen in the continental US, this destination offered an unparalleled opportunity for DEES students to observe and understand the wide range of phenomena we study.

Enclosed is a field report that we hope will be of benefit to future travellers to the Pacific Northwest, or any one with an interest in the region. We include a multidisciplinary set of preparatory material relevant to the trip, touching on petrology, glaciology, seismology, and climate science. We then provide daily itineraries from our trip; this resource may be used as a step-by-step field guide or as a source for detailed information about the area. We showcase notable features found in our field guides, as well as observations we made along the way.

This trip would not have been possible without the planning and instruction of Philipp Ruprecht, our faculty representative, who guided us through volcanology, petrology, and the mores of Washington State.


Trip itinerary

Day 1: August 3, 2014
  • Flew to Seattle-Tacoma Intl. Airport from Newark Intl. Airport.
  • Drove north to Anacortes to view ophiolite sequence.
  • Camped at Deception Pass State Park.
Day 2: August 4, 2014
  • Outcrops near Deception Pass showing accretionary history.
  • Left the Puget Sound region and drove to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, passing the location of the 2014 Oso Landslide.
  • Camped at Horseshoe Cove.
Day 3: August 5, 2014
  • Local overlooks and hiking in alpine meadows with views of Mt. Baker.
  • Visited a dam that regulates river flow and prevents flooding in the region.
  • Camped at Horseshoe Cove.
Day 4: August 6, 2014
  • Left the vicinity of Mt. Baker and drove east along the North Cascades Highway (SR-20), stopping to note roadside geology. Turned south at junction with Rt. 97.
  • Camped at Daroga State Park.
  • Note: Original plans were to camp at Alta Lake State Park; however the Carlton Complex fires damaged the park forcing it to close prior to our visit. At the time of writing this guide, reconstruction is ongoing at the park. Daroga State Park was booked last minute, about a week in advance of our trip.
Day 5: August 7, 2014
  • Left Daroga State Park and continued driving south with stops to view the Columbia River Basalts.
  • Ginko Petried Forest.
  • Longer, scenic route through Yakima with roadside geology and views of Mt. Ranier.
  • Camped at Silver Springs.
Day 6: August 8, 2014
  • Explored the northern side of Mt. Rainier with Tom Sisson.
  • Drove to Sunrise Visitor Center and hiked the Burrows Mountain Trail.
  • Camped at Silver Springs.
Day 7: August 9, 2014
  • Explored the southern side of Mt. Rainier.
  • Drove to Paradise Visitor Center and hiked to Panorama Point with detours to view glacial features.
  • Continued to Giord-Pinchot National Forest.
  • Camped at Iron Creek.
Day 8: August 10, 2014
  • Explored the northeastern side of Mt. St. Helens.
  • Drove to Windy Ridge with roadside stops along the way.
  • Hiked the Windy Ridge Trail and continued down into the Pumice Plain.
  • Camped at Iron Creek.
Day 9: August 11, 2014
  • Drove to Ape Caves on the southern side of Mt. St. Helens.
  • Hiked Upper Ape Cave.
  • Drove west and then north on I-5 with a stop at Harry Gardener Park.
  • Camped at Millersylvania State Park.
Day 10: August 12, 2014
  • Stop at Mima Mounds.
  • Drove west to the coastline turning north at Aberdeen and continued to Kalaloch Camp-ground.
  • Visited Ruby Beach.
  • Camped at Kalaloch.
Day 11: August 13, 2014
  • Drove to Forks and visited Timber Museum.
  • Visited the Hoh Rainforest.
  • Visited Kalaloch Beach.
  • Camped at Kalaloch.
Day 12: August 14, 2014
  • Drove to Sea-Tac Intl. Airport.
  • Return fight to Newark.


Download the Washington Field Guide