Tree-ring studies in the Cascade Range and Puget Lowland
Undergraduate Field Studies and Research in the Earth Sciences at Centralia College
updated February 1, 2015
Investigations of of the formation of Irely Lake in Olympic National Park and of the ghost forest that's in it
Glacier Lake Landslide Puzzle of the ~2,300 yr B.P. buried and submerged trees
Research published at the Northwest Scientific Association's 84th Annual Meeting at Portland State University in Portland Oregon
2nd Undergraduate Geoscience Research Conference—April 19, 2013 at the University of Puget Sound Tacoma WA
~1,100 yr B.P. buried forests in the Puyallup and Duwamish River valleys [coming soon]
Centralia College Researchers in the News
Field and lab research gives students experience in making observations
about the natural world while doing field studies, collecting data,
taking notes, conducting lab work, and writing up and communicating
about their inquiries. They not only learn how to organize a study, but
find out that field and lab studies help you to direct and focus your
research—It's an iterative process.
Investigations of the formation of Irely Lake and its ghost forest in Olympic National Park
Irely Lake, northeast of Lake Quinault, hosts a ghost forest. Professor
Karl Wegmann of North Carolina State Univ. began investigating the lake
in 2003 while working at the Washington Division of Geology and Earth
Sciences. The lake contains a "ghost forest" of subfossil trees, so
with Professor Wegmann's encouragement, Centralia College student
Garret Marlantes began investigations of the lake during the summer of
2014 to determine what formed the lake and killed the trees. Garret
repolished, scanned, and remeasured increment cores taken by Karl
Wegmann and also took new samples of fire-charred snags and living
old-growth trees near the lake in hopes of using dendrochronology to
solve the mystery of the ghost forest. Further, Garret investigated the
outlet area of Irely Lake near adjoining Big Creek, a study made easier
because the lake had totally dried up by late August. Garret observed
that the snags in the lake all showed evidence of charring and fire.
Additionally, flooding in Big Creek, to which Irely Creek drains, had
not only blocked the outlet of Irely Creek, which flows into the lake,
but also had constructed a sandy delta in the west portion of Irely
Lake. The top of this reentrant delta is at the same elevation as the
highest lakewater in Irely lake. Evidently the fire that killed the
trees now in the lake had occurred before the flooding and aggradation
in Big Creek had blocked off Irely Creek to form Irely Lake. Garret is
continuing to study the tree-ring samples from the subfossil trees and
ancient living trees nearby in an effort determine the age of the fire
that charred, and killed, the trees. Garret presented preliminary
results of the investigation at the 2014 Geological Society of America
Annual Meeting in Vancouver BC Canada.
The abstract and poster presented by Garret at the Geological Society
of America Annual Meeting 2014 in Vancouver BC Canada can be viewed
Marlantes, Garret A.; Pringle, Patrick T.; Wegmann, Karl W., 2014,
Investigation of subfossil trees at Irely Lake, Olympic National Park,
Washington, USA [abstract]: Geological Society of America Abstracts
with Programs, v. 46, paper 208–52. [Accessed on October 15, 2014 at https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Paper250422.html; download poster at http://www.centralia.edu/academics/earthscience/pubs/Irely_marlantes_pringle_wegmann_gsa2014_final.pdf]
Above: Garret Marlantes cores a dead western redcedar snag north of Irely Lake, May 2014.
Above: Garret Marlantes investigates a subfossil western redcedar snag in the dry bed of Irely Lake, August 2014.
Above, Garret Marlantes discusses the Irely Lake research project with
geology instructor Kathryn Hoppe of Green River Community College at
the 2014 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Vancouver BC
Above: 2014 GSA Vancouver BC Canada: Centralia College graduate
Michelle Kearns, now of Evergreen State College (left) helps Garret
Marlantes show his poster to Katryn Wiese and Jennifer Leman at a
workshop/discussion session on undergraduate research hosted by the
NAGT (National Assoc. of Geoscience Teachers) and attended by a
representative of the National Science Foundation.
Investigations of Glacier Lake landslide and other landslides near Packwood, Washington
Colleen Suter takes a core of a Douglas-fir atop the Glacier Lake
rockslide deposit while Christina Williams waits to give her break from
the coring. The landslide is one of several young rockslide-debris
avalanches in the southwest Washington Cascade Range near Packwood.
Estimating the age of the oldest tree growing atop the landslide will
help establish a minimum age.
Christina and Colleen slide a straw sleeve over the core as they prepare to extract it from the bit.
The core cooperates and comes out in one piece!
And back at the Centralia College tree-ring lab...
...the cores are untwisted by steaming (if necessary), glued down to pieces of wood lath, and the taped for drying.
When the glue is dry, the tape is removed and the cores are
sanded/polished ending with 2000 grit abrasive paper (the kind use in
autobody finishing). The samples were then blasted with compressed air
to remove any grit.
Colleen examines the annual growth rings of the Glacier Lake trees with a stereomicroscope.
Suter, Colleen; Pringle, Patrick Patrick T.; Schuster, Robert
L., 2013, New environmental and radiocarbon evidence for the ages of
two Holocene landslide-dammed lakes in the southern Washington Cascade
Range, USA [abstract]: Northwest Scientific Association, Annual
Meeting, 84th, p. 78–79.
Colleen and Katie Glew, outgoing President of the Northwest Scientific Association, at the poster session.
Return to the top of the page.
Puzzle of the ~2,300 yr B.P. subfossil trees
We compared the mysteriously similar radiocarbon ages of buried
and/or submerged trees at several sites in, and near the Puget Lowland
and are using tree-ring methods to test possible correlations.
Pringle, Patrick T.; Williams, Christina A., 2013, What geologic
event(s) killed the circa 2,300 yr B.P. submerged or buried subfossil
trees at multiple sites in and near the Puget Lowland, Washington USA?
Northwest Scientific Association, Annual Meeting, 84th, p. 69–70.
Subfossil trees in Woodland Creek near Olympia, Washington are
preserved because they are in the intertidal zone of Henderson Inlet.
The middle tree yielded a radiocarbon age of ~2,300 yr B.P. What killed
Christina Williams discusses the poster with Serrafina Ferri and Megan Walsh of Centralia Washington University.
Christina Williams discusses the poster with David Jordan of Trinity College in BC.
Riding the streetcar in Portland after the opening reception at the NW Science meeting.
2nd Undergraduate Geoscience Research Conference—April 19, 2013 at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma WA
Colleen Suter and Michelle Kearns attended the conference with Pat
Pringle. Participants were from the University of Puget Sound, Pacific
Lutheran University, University of Washington Tacoma, and Centralia
Colleen Suter discusses her poster with Professor Kena Fox-Dobbs of
the University of Puget Sound Geology Dept. while Michelle Kearns looks
on. Barry Goldstein of UPS at right and Duncan Foley of Pacific
Lutheran University in the background.The conference was held in the science building at the Univer
sity of Puget Sound. Michelle is just beginning a research project
looking at subfossil trees buried ~1,100 years ago in the Puyallup and
White River valleys.
Centralia College Researchers in the News
STEM students publish research at the Northwest Scientific Association 2013 Annual Meeting in Portland OR August 12, 2013
STEM students wow crowd with CAPSTONE research presentations by electronics and robotics students and others fields July 9, 2014
Patrick Pringle, webmaster. Send communications to ppringle 'at' centralia.edu