Tree-ring studies in the Cascade Range and Puget Lowland

Undergraduate Field Studies and Research in the Earth Sciences at Centralia College

updated November 6, 2014

Contents

Introduction
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]


Introduction

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 in Olympic National Park and of the ghost forest that's in it

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 here:
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]


Garret Marlantes coring a fire-charred snag at Irely Lake
Above: Garret Marlantes cores a dead western redcedar snag north of Irely Lake, May 2014.

Garret Marlantes investigating a subfossil snag in the dry bed of Irely Lake, August 2014

Above: Garret Marlantes investigates a subfossil western redcedar snag in the dry bed of Irely Lake, August 2014.
Garret Marlantes discusses the Irely Lake research project with geology instructor Kathryn Hoppe of Green River Community College
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 Canada.
Michelle Kearns 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 and attended by a representative of the National Science Foundation.
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 cores a Douglas-fir atop the Glacier Lake rockslide while Christina Williams looks on

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.
Colleen and Christina slide a straw sleeve around the core
Christina and Colleen slide a straw sleeve over the core as they prepare to extract it from the bit.

Christina extracts core
The core cooperates and comes out in one piece!

And back at the Centralia College tree-ring lab...

Colleen and Christina mounting cores from Glacier Lake landslide
...the cores are untwisted by steaming (if necessary), glued down to pieces of wood lath, and the taped for drying.

Christina sanding a Glacier Lake core
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 exams the annual growth rings with a stereomicroscope.

Colleen examines the annual growth rings of the Glacier Lake trees with a stereomicroscope.

the abstract
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, President of NWSA, at the poster session.
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.

the abstract

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 lying in Woodland Creek near Olympia WA
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 the trees?

Christina Williams discusses the poster with Serrafina Ferri and Megan Walsh of  Centralia Washington University.
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.
Christina Williams discusses the poster with David Jordan of Trinity College in BC.



Riding the streetcar in Portland

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 College. 

Colleen Suter shows her poster at the 2nd Undergraduate Research Conference at UPS

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.


Patrick Pringle, webmaster. Send communications to ppringle 'at' centralia.edu