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Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Today is day 151 of 2023 and
day 243 of Water Year 2023
Welcome to! This site is an externally-accessible clearing house of static, real-time, non-real-time, and archived Mount Rainier geologic and geomorphic data used for geohazard awareness and mitigation. All data provided on this site are publicly-accessible non-sensitive scientific information collected by geologists at Mount Rainier National Park. Individual datasets are provided here for informational use only and are not guaranteed to be accurate or final versions - all data should be considered provisional unless otherwise noted.
As of: 05/31/2023 09:00 AM

32.6° F
Wind: SSE (152°) @ 1 G 8 mph
Snow Depth: 74 in (66% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
As of: 05/31/2023 04:00 AM

43.3° F
Snow Depth: 0 in (0% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
AT PARADISE (5,400')
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Mowich Face seen during an aerial reconnaissance flight (from a photo by Scott Beason on 02/10/2020)
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier


  1. Sun, May 28, 2023, 17:42:39 GMT
    2 days 23 hours 3 minutes 15 seconds ago
    0.369 km (0.229 mi) ENE of summit
    Magnitude: 0.2
    Depth 1.4 km (0.9 mi)
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  2. Sun, May 28, 2023, 17:04:44 GMT
    2 days 23 hours 41 minutes 10 seconds ago
    0.429 km (0.266 mi) ESE of summit
    Magnitude: 1.0
    Depth 1.0 km (0.6 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Sat, May 27, 2023, 21:23:30 GMT
    3 days 19 hours 22 minutes 24 seconds ago
    0.125 km (0.078 mi) SE of summit
    Magnitude: 0.0
    Depth 1.1 km (0.7 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Wed, May 24, 2023, 06:09:30 GMT
    7 days 10 hours 36 minutes 25 seconds ago
    13.223 km (8.216 mi) W of summit
    Magnitude: 0.2
    Depth 10.9 km (6.8 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Tue, May 23, 2023, 16:30:18 GMT
    8 days 15 minutes 36 seconds ago
    14.166 km (8.802 mi) W of summit
    Magnitude: 0.9
    Depth 7.2 km (4.5 mi)
    View More Info

Currently, this site has approximately
total data points in its database!
  1. Pierson (2006) Dating young geomorphic surfaces using age of colonizing Douglas fir in southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon, USA
    Dating of dynamic, young (<500 years) geomorphic landforms, particularly volcanofluvial features, requires higher precision than is possible with radiocarbon dating. Minimum ages of recently created landforms have long been obtained from tree-ring ages of the oldest trees growing on new surfaces. But to estimate the year of landform creation requires that two time corrections be added to tree ages obtained from increment cores: (1) the time interval between stabilization of the new landform surface and germination of the sampled trees (germination lag time or GLT); and (2) the interval between seedling germination and growth to sampling height, if the trees are not cored at ground level. The sum of these two time intervals is the colonization time gap (CTG). Such time corrections have been needed for more precise dating of terraces and floodplains in lowland river valleys in the Cascade Range, where significant eruption-induced lateral shifting and vertical aggradation of channels can occur over years to decades, and where timing of such geomorphic changes can be critical to emergency planning. Earliest colonizing Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) were sampled for tree-ring dating at eight sites on lowland (<750 m a.s.l.), recently formed surfaces of known age near three Cascade volcanoes – Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood – in southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon. Increment cores or stem sections were taken at breast height and, where possible, at ground level from the largest, oldest-looking trees at each study site. At least ten trees were sampled at each site unless the total of early colonizers was less. Results indicate that a correction of four years should be used for GLT and 10 years for CTG if the single largest (and presumed oldest) Douglas fir growing on a surface of unknown age is sampled. This approach would have a potential error of up to 20 years. Error can be reduced by sampling the five largest Douglas fir instead of the single largest. A GLT correction of 5 years should be added to the mean ring-count age of the five largest trees growing on the surface being dated, if the trees are cored at ground level. This correction would have an approximate error of ±5 years. If the trees are cored at about 1.4 m above the ground surface (breast height), a CTG correction of 11 years should be added to the mean age of the five sampled trees (with an error of about ±7 years).
  2. Johnson et al. (2023) Infrasound detection of approaching lahars
    Infrasound may be used to detect the approach of hazardous volcanic mudflows, known as lahars, tens of minutes before their flow fronts arrive. We have analyzed signals from more than 20 secondary lahars caused by precipitation events at Fuego Volcano during Guatemala’s rainy season in May through October of 2022. We are able to quantify the capabilities of infrasound monitoring through comparison with seismic data, time lapse camera imagery, and high-resolution video of a well-recorded event on August 17. We determine that infrasound sensors, deployed adjacent to the lahar path and in small-aperture (10 s of meters) arrays, are particularly sensitive to remote detection of lahars, including small-sized events, at distances of at least 5 km. At Fuego Volcano these detections could be used to provide timely alerts of up to 30 min before lahars arrive at a downstream monitoring site, such as in the frequently impacted Ceniza drainage. We propose that continuous infrasound monitoring, from locations adjacent to a drainage, may complement seismic monitoring and serve as a valuable tool to help identify approaching hazards. On the other hand, infrasound arrays located a kilometer or more from the lahar path can be effectively used to track a lahar’s progression.
  3. Ewen (2023) Glacial loss and threatened fish: The future of Mount Rainier's cold-water Bull Trout habitats
    Glaciers play a key ecological role in the river systems that they support. Cold-water reaches supplied by glacial ice serve as critical habitats for aquatic organisms that rely on specific thermal ranges to survive. Federally threatened Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) require very cold temperatures, like those found in glacial systems, to complete their life cycles. However, glaciers are retreating due to climate change and are expected to continue diminishing throughout this century. Decreased glacial extent could result in warmer stream temperatures downstream from glaciers and, depending on the magnitude of stream temperature increase, cold-water habitats relied upon by Bull Trout and other sensitive species could shrink. This issue is particularly relevant to Mount Rainier (Washington State, USA). Mount Rainier’s dense concentration of glaciers supports several rivers that provide crucial cold-water spawning habitats for Bull Trout. Future scenarios in which Bull Trout spawning habitats are impacted by glacial decline resulting from increased air temperatures have yet to be widely studied on Mount Rainier. To explore the future of Mount Rainier’s cold-water habitats, I used hourly stream temperature data collected in the glacially-fed White River and Carbon River watersheds, designated as critical Bull Trout spawning habitat by the Endangered Species Act, from June – October in 2021. Based on these empirical stream temperature data, I fit spatial stream network models to each watershed, representing contemporary thermal conditions as a function of current glacial extent and air temperature. Using seven-day average daily maximum (7DADM) stream temperature as my thermal metric and September as my time frame, I focused predictions during Bull Trout spawning season in the White and Carbon rivers. To then simulate future climate change impacts to spawning habitats, I adjusted the models to predict stream temperature in both mid-century and late-century scenarios of air temperature rise, coupled with 20%, 40%, and 80% declines in glacial extent. The average 7DADM temperature predicted for contemporary conditions was 6.3°C in the White River watershed and 8.1°C in the Carbon. As air temperature values increased and glacial size decreased, stream temperatures increased to a maximum of 15.7°C (an increase of 9.4°C) in the White River watershed and up to 12.7°C (an increase of 4.6°C) in the Carbon. The proportion of river kilometers that may be thermally viable for Bull Trout spawning, classified as 12°C, significantly declined in both watersheds by late-century. Site-specific thermal predictions for individual spawning streams found that a few streams may provide cold-water habitats in the coming decades, while most will likely warm beyond a spawning thermal threshold. These results can be utilized by resource managers seeking to conserve Bull Trout and protect the most critical, enduring cold-water habitats. My models can furthermore be used as baselines for future modeling efforts in these or similar glacial systems.
  4. Muste et al. (2020) Revisiting hysteresis of flow variables in monitoring unsteady flows
    Conventional streamflow monitoring methods entail one-to-one relationships between two flow variables obtained by combining direct flow measurements with statistical analyses. These relationships (i.e. ratings) are used to monitor both steady and unsteady flows despite that in the latter cases the flow variables display an inherent hysteretic behaviour. Such behaviour is prominent if the wave passing through the gauging station is non-kinematic. This paper demonstrates that the index-velocity and continuous slope-area methods are more suitable to monitor unsteady flows in comparison with the widely used stage–discharge approach. Case studies are presented to show that, contrary to current perceptions in practical applications, hysteresis can be captured even in small streams and frequently-occurring run-off events. The paper also highlights the separation of the flow variable hydrographs in unsteady flows. This hysteresis-related aspect is less investigated so far despite having important practical implications for both hydrometric and fluvial transport applications.
  5. Varliero et al. (2023) Glacial water: A dynamic microbial medium
    Microbial communities and nutrient dynamics in glaciers and ice sheets continuously change as the hydrological conditions within and on the ice change. Glaciers and ice sheets can be considered bioreactors as microbiomes transform nutrients that enter these icy systems and alter the meltwater chemistry. Global warming is increasing meltwater discharge, affecting nutrient and cell export, and altering proglacial systems. In this review, we integrate the current understanding of glacial hydrology, microbial activity, and nutrient and carbon dynamics to highlight their interdependence and variability on daily and seasonal time scales, as well as their impact on proglacial environments.
  6. Fordham et al. (2023) Recurrent debris flows and their downstream fate: Geomorphic drivers of an anomalous sediment load, Suiattle River, Washington State, USA
    Alpine mass wasting events have impacts that extend past their headwater origins, sometimes reaching populated lowlands. Understanding the processes driving these sediment pulses, and how they contribute to basin-scale sediment fluxes, is important for hazard assessment and aquatic habitat management. The Suiattle River, which drains Glacier Peak stratovolcano in Washington State, is a dominant contributor of suspended sediment in the region. Normalized for drainage area, it supplies more suspended sediment than nearly any other river in the area and more than twice as much as the White Chuck River, which drains the opposite flank of the volcano. Despite its importance to the regional sediment budget, geomorphic processes in the basin have received relatively little attention in the literature. In this study, we build on previous work to explore the magnitude, timing and triggering mechanisms of sediment loading events in the basin. We find that outburst flood-triggered debris flows from Chocolate Glacier are of widely varying magnitude and coincide with high temperatures in the late summer. Major debris flow activity initiated in the late 1930s, with at least eight valley-filling debris flows since then. Smaller, more recent debris flows, likely also driven by outburst floods, occur in five of seven years of complete data. In total, the small debris flows and the subsequent autumn flushing events explain ~21% of the ‘anomalous’ sediment load in the basin, while reworking and abrasion of the historic events may explain another ~26%. We speculate that some of the remaining unexplained ‘anomalous’ load could be the result of a feedback between channel lateral instability (originally triggered by the valley-spanning debris flows) and bluff erosion.

View More Publications...

August 5, 2019 Tahoma Creek Debris Flow
Posted on Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 17:00 by Scott Beason. Updated on Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 17:00

The 32nd recorded debris flow in Tahoma Creek occurred on August 5, 2019, between 6:44 PM PDT (8/6/2019 01:55 UTC) - 8:10 PM PDT (8/6/2019 03:10 UTC), as observed on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's (PNSN) Emerald Ridge (RER) seismograph. The event began as a sudden and significant change in the primary outlet stream from the terminus of the South Tahoma Glacier. This change caused a surge of water to go over loose, steep and unconsolidated sediment-rich areas just downstream of the terminus. Debris flow deposits were observed approximately 4 miles downstream at the Tahoma Creek Trail trailhead (an area affectionally known in the park as 'barrel curve'). The event is still being investigated... a good photo set (with a few videos) is available here: If you would like to view more information about the event, click here: If you were in the area of the South Tahoma Glacier or Tahoma Creek on the evening of August 5 and/or morning of August 6, and have any interesting observations, please send them to Scott Beason.

New Camp Schurman weather station added!
Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 14:17 by Scott Beason. Updated on Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 14:17

A new weather station has been added to Click the following link to see hourly data from Camp Schurman on the NE side of Mount Rainier's volcanic edifice at 9,500 feet:

Longmire RSAM Down
Posted on Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 05:00 by Scott Beason. Updated on Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 05:00

The Longmire (LON) seismograph has been reporting ground vibrations from a construction project in the area near the seismograph. In order to prevent erroneous debris flow alerts, the RSAM (debris flow detection) analysis has been disabled. The system will be restored once the construction project has been completed.


U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, May 26, 2023, 12:20 PM PDT (Friday, May 26, 2023, 19:20 UTC)

Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Activity Update: All volcanoes in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington are at normal background activity levels. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams in Washington State and Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake in Oregon.

Past Week Observations: During the past week, small earthquakes were detected at Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Newberry. All monitoring data are consistent with background activity levels in the Cascade Range. The USGS continues to respond to the impacts of the May 14th debris flow at Mount St. Helens, including the loss of power to Johnston Ridge Observatory (JRO). Crews will be working on site next week to build a temporary power system at the JRO tower. The number of instruments that remain operational is sufficient to detect increased activity and provide rough earthquake locations. Permanent repairs to the road and power supply could take months or more.

The U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory and the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Seismic Network continue to monitor Washington and Oregon volcanoes closely and will issue additional notifications as warranted.

Website Resources

For images, graphics, and general information on Cascade Range volcanoes:
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes:
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications:


Jon Major, Scientist-in-Charge, Cascades Volcano Observatory,

General inquiries: