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Tuesday, December 06, 2022
Today is day 340 of 2022 and
day 67 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: 12/06/2022 05:00 AM

23.2° F
Wind: W (260°) @ 7 G 13 mph
Snow Depth: 66 in (120% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.36 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
As of: 12/06/2022 06:00 AM

32.5° F
Snow Depth: 9 in (113% of normal)
24-hour Precip: 0.00 in

[ Observation | Forecast ]
AT PARADISE (5,400')
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Southwest face of Mount Rainier (from a photo by Scott Beason on 09/28/2014)
Earthquakes in the last 30 days near Mount Rainier


  1. Mon, Dec 05, 2022, 12:48:10 GMT
    1 day 1 hour 41 minutes 39 seconds ago
    10.644 km (6.614 mi) WNW of summit
    Magnitude: 0.0
    Depth 5.1 km (3.2 mi)
    View More Info

  2. Sun, Dec 04, 2022, 02:28:17 GMT
    2 days 12 hours 1 minute 33 seconds ago
    2.075 km (1.289 mi) S of summit
    Magnitude: 0.7
    Depth 1.5 km (0.9 mi)
    View More Info

  3. Fri, Dec 02, 2022, 21:20:46 GMT
    3 days 17 hours 9 minutes 4 seconds ago
    15.420 km (9.582 mi) SW of summit
    Magnitude: 1.2
    Depth 5.8 km (3.6 mi)
    View More Info

  4. Fri, Dec 02, 2022, 05:51:08 GMT
    4 days 8 hours 38 minutes 41 seconds ago
    17.869 km (11.103 mi) SW of summit
    Magnitude: 1.1
    Depth 8.1 km (5.0 mi)
    View More Info

  5. Fri, Dec 02, 2022, 00:07:11 GMT
    4 days 14 hours 22 minutes 39 seconds ago
    0.032 km (0.020 mi) SSE of summit
    Magnitude: -0.7
    Depth 0.1 km (0.1 mi)
    View More Info

Currently, this site has approximately
total data points in its database!
  1. Kustas et al. (1994) A simple energy budget algorithm for the snowmelt runoff model
    The snowmelt runoff model (SRM) uses a degree-day approach for melting snow in a basin. A simple radiation component was combined with the degree-day approach (restricted degree-day method) in an effort to improve estimates of snowmelt and reduce the need to adjust the melt factor over the ablation season. A daily energy balance model was formulated that requires not only the input of radiation but also measurements of daily wind speed, air temperature, and relative humidity. The three approaches for computing snowmelt, namely, the degree-day, restricted degree-day, and daily energy balance model were tested at the local scale by comparing melt rates with lysimeter outflow measurements. Because radiation measurements are not often available, a simple model for simulating shortwave and longwave components of the radiation balance that requires minimal information (i.e., daily cloud cover estimates, air temperature, and relative humidity) was developed. It was found that clouds and their effects on daily insolation at the surface can produce significant differences between measured and model estimates. In the comparisons of snowmelt estimates with the lysimeter outflow, the restricted degree-day method yielded melt rates that were in better agreement with the observed outflow than the degree-day method and were practically the same as estimates given by the energy balance model. A sensitivity analysis of runoff generated with SRM using as input the local snowmelt computations given by the three models and measured outflow from the lysimeter was performed for a basin. A comparison of the synthetic hydrographs for the basin suggests that a radiation-based snowmelt factor may improve runoff predictions at the basin scale.
  2. Pelto (2018) How unusual was 2015 in the 1984-2015 period of the North Cascade Glacier annual mass balanace?
    In 1983, the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) began the annual monitoring of the mass balance on 10 glaciers throughout the range, in order to identify their response to climate change. Annual mass balance (Ba) measurements have continued on seven original glaciers, with an additional two glaciers being added in 1990. The measurements were discontinued on two glaciers that had disappeared and one was that had separated into several sections. This comparatively long record from nine glaciers in one region, using the same methods, offers some useful comparative data in order to place the impact of the regional climate warmth of 2015 in perspective. The mean annual balance of the NCGCP glaciers is reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), with two glaciers, Columbia and Rainbow Glacier, being reference glaciers. The mean Ba of the NCGCP glaciers from 1984 to 2015, was -0.54 m w.e.a-1 (water equivalent per year), ranging from -0.44 to -0.67 m w.e.a-1 for individual glaciers. In 2015, the mean Ba of nine North Cascade glaciers was -3.10 m w.e., the most negative result in the 32-year record. The correlation coefficient of Ba was above 0.80 between all North Cascade glaciers, indicating that the response was regional and not controlled by local factors. The probability of achieving the observed 2015 Ba of -3.10 is 0.34%.
  3. Radic et al. (2008) Analysis of scaling methods in deriving future volume evolutions of valley glaciers
    Volume–area scaling is a common tool for deriving future volume evolutions of valley glaciers and their contribution to sea-level rise. We analyze the performance of scaling relationships for deriving volume projections in comparison to projections from a one-dimensional ice-flow model. The model is calibrated for six glaciers (Nigardsbreen, Rhonegletscher, South Cascade Glacier, Sofiyskiy glacier, midre Lovénbreen and Abramov glacier). Volume evolutions forced by different hypothetical mass-balance perturbations are compared with those obtained from volume–area (V-A), volume–length (V-L) and volume–area–length (V-A-L) scaling. Results show that the scaling methods mostly underestimate the volume losses predicted by the ice-flow model, up to 47% for V-A scaling and up to 18% for V-L scaling by the end of the 100 year simulation period. In general, V-L scaling produces closer simulations of volume evolutions derived from the ice-flow model, suggesting that V-L scaling may be a better approach for deriving volume projections than V-A scaling. Sensitivity experiments show that the initial volumes and volume evolutions are highly sensitive to the choice of the scaling constants, yielding both over- and underestimates. However, when normalized by initial volume, volume evolutions are relatively insensitive to the choice of scaling constants, especially in the V-L scaling. The 100 year volume projections differ within 10% of initial volume when the V-A scaling exponent commonly assumed, γ = 1.375, is varied by −30% to +45% (γ = [0.95, 2.00]) and the V-L scaling exponent, q = 2.2, is varied by −30% to +45% (q = [1.52, 3.20]). This is encouraging for the use of scaling methods in glacier volume projections, particularly since scaling exponents may vary between glaciers and the scaling constants are generally unknown.
  4. Vallance and Sisson (2022) Geologic field-trip guide to volcanism and its interaction with snow and ice at Mount Rainier, Washington
    Mount Rainier is the Pacific Northwest's iconic volcano. At 4,393 meters and situated in the south-central Cascade Range of Washington State, it towers over cities of the Puget Lowland. As the highest summit in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier hosts 26 glaciers and numerous permanent snow fields covering 87 square kilometers and having a snow and ice volume of about 3.8 cubic kilometers. It remains by far the most heavily glacier-clad mountain in the conterminous United States despite having lost about 14 percent of its ice volume between 1970 and 2008. Five major rivers head at Mount Rainier—the White, Carbon, Puyallup, Nisqually, and Cowlitz Rivers. Because Mount Rainier is situated west of the Cascade Range crest, all of these rivers eventually turn and drain westward. The Puget Lowland, situated west to northwest of Mount Rainier, is the Pacific Northwest's most densely populated area, including Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. The Puget Lowland is now home to a population of more than 4.5 million and a vibrant economy. Mount Rainier is one of the most hazardous volcanoes in the United States, not so much because of its explosivity, but rather because of its frequent eruptions, its propensity to produce voluminous far-traveled lahars, and its proximity to large population centers of the Puget Lowland. Steep-sided, glacially carved valleys serve as lahar conduits, and even mild eruptions commonly produced large lahars that traveled into areas now populated by hundreds of thousands of people. This guide describes a five-day field trip to view the geology of Mount Rainier as it relates to volcanism and its interaction with snow and ice. Day 1 will focus on lahars in the White River valley. We will drive to Enumclaw, Washington, to begin the day then work our way back upvalley toward Mount Rainier. Day 2 concentrates on geology of the Sunrise-Glacier Basin area within Mount Rainier National Park. As part of day 2 activities, we will hike about 10 miles from Sunrise to the top of Burroughs Mountain, down into Glacier Basin, and be picked up at White River Campground. On day 3 we will pack up and move to Paradise, stopping to examine geology along Stevens Canyon Road. We will hike from Paradise along the Golden Gate Trail and eventually eastward to the former Paradise Ice Caves area (the ice caves have melted out). Day 4 involves hiking from Comet Falls trailhead to Mildred Point and return (~7 miles; 11 km), examining geology along the way. During the first half of day 5, we will visit sites on the south side of Mount Rainier to study lahar deposits, then return to the tour origin.
  5. Cutter et al. (2019) The Nisqually River: Risk assessment and recommendations for future actions
    This report is intended to assess the Nisqually River, identifying problem areas threatening park infrastructure, recommending further work, and note deficiencies and improvements to be made for the next actions taken on the project.
  6. Kellermann (2022) Developing and testing a geomorphic mapping protocol in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
    The grand landscapes and river systems of Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) are influenced by its glaciovolcanic geology and the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest. Mapping geomorphic changes is a crucial step to understanding, interacting with, and preserving the pristine environments of the Park. Geologic hazards and large-scale hydrologic events are common within park boundaries, putting infrastructure and cultural and historical sites at risk of permanent damage. In this study, I present a protocol for mapping geomorphic features remotely and in the field, and I test the protocol along an at-risk road segment along the Nisqually River. With ArcGIS Pro, I defined site boundaries with a watershed delineation, designated key geomorphic features custom to the unique environment of the Park, and assigned key attribute domains to further describe each mapped feature. Then, I mapped landform features using LiDAR and aerial imagery in Pro and used ArcGIS Online and Field Maps for in-field mapping with a mobile tablet and a backpack-mounted GNSS receiver. After extensive testing, the protocol is in its preliminary phase and ready to be applied to other park field sites for further testing and repeat mapping projects. The resulting inventory suggests that the protocol is suitable for the remote and rugged characteristics of the Park when paired with recent LiDAR data and favorable GNSS conditions. The standardized methods and taxonomy proposed in the protocol allow for recording landform changes and initial site characterization that can be used to identify locations for hazard mitigation. The protocol is repeatable, providing a standardized format useful for comparison between different locations and timescales. While the protocol is designed for the features found near Mount Rainier, it can be readily modified for other fluvial and hillslope environments. In its final form, this geomorphic mapping protocol will equip MORA geologists and resource managers with a standard approach to documenting MORA's most geologically dynamic and at-risk infrastructure and resources.

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, December 2, 2022, 11:35 AM PST (Friday, December 2, 2022, 19:35 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 levels of activity. 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.

Recent Observations: Earthquakes consistent with background activity were observed at Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood over the last week.

The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) continue to monitor these volcanoes closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level 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:

The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) continue to monitor these volcanoes closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level 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:
Media: Ryan McClymont, PIO, USGS Office of Communications and Publishing