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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Debris flows: a looming hazard for the Northwest

Debris flows, slurries of mud, gravel and rock, are a product of mountain erosion associated with glaciers. They are especially prevalent on volcanoes around the "Ring of Fire" that circles the Pacific that each hold great loads of volcanic debris high on their glacier-clad slopes.

Present-day debris flow dangers at Mt. Rainier were recently featured in a front page article by Sandi Doughton in the Seattle Times, based on an interview with Paul Kennard, a Park Service geologist. Here's a photo of the rocky mess at Rainier's Tahoma Creek, from The Times:
In the North Cascades, Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak are potential sources of damaging flows, and glacial retreat throughout the Cascades has laid bare huge quantities of glacial grindings so that accelerated transport to rivers must be expected.

The upcoming issue of The Wild Cascades will include more on this topic... Join N3C now to get your copy delivered to your home:

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