What’s in the Box? Old Familiar Places

The outdoorsy among us who have spent time in the Seattle area are surely familiar with Mount Si, a popular hiking destination close to the city. But did you know that Mount Si hosts beautiful minerals as well as incredible views?

Quartz with dravite

This specimen is on its way back to the box after three months on display in the Washington County Museum in Hillsboro, OR. It is a plate of quartz crystals covered with dravite tourmaline from the Bald Hornet claims on Mount Si in Washington state.

The Bald Hornet claims were developed in the aftermath of the 1869 discovery of iron ore in the Snoqualmie Pass area. While these small-time claims did not manage to produce any economic ores, they did give us crystallized mineral specimens like these. Such specimens are generally associated with contact zones, where intrusive granitic rocks interacted with surrounding sedimentary rock, especially limestone.

(Mining claim information sourced from “Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines (Vol. 1)”, ed. Ina Chang.)

This post is part of our What’s in the Box? series.

Survival and Resilience after a Cascadia Earthquake Event

Block diagram of Cascadia Subduction Zone

Block diagram of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where two tectonic plates are locked together and building up for The Big One. Image from the USGS.

This week’s New Yorker article on The Really Big One has struck a chord with my friends on my Facebook feed. I’ve seen several posts this morning from geologists and non-geologists alike expressing fear and hopelessness in the face of a looming threat: the next great Cascadia earthquake, which may happen at any moment and will bring the coastal Pacific Northwest along with both Portland and Seattle to its knees.

Though the article’s science and history are spot-on, the author has left out a critical part of the story: just what are we supposed to do about it? Contrary to popular belief, a Cascadia earthquake does not mean that everything is simply “toast,” as FEMA’s Kenneth Murphy is quoted as saying. Each of us has the power, both as individuals and as a regional community, to prepare for survival and resilience.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can do! Continue reading

Rare Film Footage of Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Eruption

Last year, rare footage of a documentary on Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption from the late 1980s was shared on YouTube.

The documentary shows old photographs from before the eruption dating back to the 1950s, exploring the campgrounds, parks, lakes, and forested areas, now changed forever by the destructive forces of the volcano erupting in 1980. Mount St. Helens formed 275,000 years ago.

March 27, 1980, the volcano erupted, closing the Gifford Pinchot National Park, and bringing thousand of scientists and forest service experts to the mountain to document every moment of this monumental event. May 18, 1980, the volcano exploded at 8:32am, killing 57 people, and destroying 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railroad, and 185 miles of highway. For over nine hours, the plume of ash rose approximately 16 miles above sea level, moving eastward at about 60 miles per hour, reaching Idaho by noon, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, by the next day. A debris avalanche triggered by the explosion and earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, releasing 24 megatons of thermal energy. It reduced the mountains summit from 9,677 to 8,365 feet, leaving a one mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater, becoming one of the most deadliest and economically destructive volcanic events in the history of the United States.

Mt. St. Helens eruption was classified as a VEI 5 event, the only significant such event to happen in the contiguous 48 United States since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California. Before 1980, the last eruption of St. Helens was 130 years ago. Continue reading