The Teanaway, a land of geologic mystery

Last week, we revealed a new one-page geologic map and summary centered on the agency’s new Teanaway Community Forest and surrounding area. We told you about the kinds of rocks found in the area and some of the processes that formed them. Yet, for what we know, there are just as many intriguing questions that scientists with our Washington State Division of Geology and Earth Sciences are still wondering. In many ways, the geology of the Teanaway is still very much mystery.

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Cheese Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

Here are a few of our unanswered questions. If you have relevant research, let us know so we can add it to the State’s Geologic Library. If you’re looking for a research project, here are some ideas.

Teanaway Mystery #1 – Given that there are multiple fault lines in the area and numerous small earthquakes, we think that a large earthquake here may be possible. But what we don’t know is how large or how often such events have been in recent history. (Recent history is defined as the last 20,000 years in geologic terms, by the way).

Teanaway Mystery #2 – As an area with many steep slopes, it’s not surprising that we see evidence of landslides over millennia. But, how old are they, what triggered them, and what is it about the underlying geology that led the land to slide?

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Mammoth Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

Teanaway Mystery #3 – The Eocene, a period 34 to 58 million years ago, was a time of dynamic geologic change. Giant volcanic and tectonic shifts were taking place. The Cascade Range had yet to be made. Rivers and swamps existed near present-day Cle Elum. Although we know that many of the changes were related to how the continent was shifting, we don’t exactly know why things changed the way that they did.

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Exclamation Point Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

As the state’s repository for geologic information, our quest is to understand what lies beneath our state and its likely impact on us today. That’s an unending task when you consider what we don’t know – even for this one part of Washington. Yet, with talented professionals entering the field and quality education programs throughout Washington we’re confident that many of our mysteries will be revealed in the decades to come.

We hope these mysteries inspire you to ask your own questions. Find out more about:

  • Pursuing a geology career. You can study Washington geology in Bellingham, Cheney, Ellensburg, Pullman, Seattle, Tacoma, or Walla Walla as most of Washington’s 4-year schools offer a bachelors of arts and Science degree in general geology, seismology and geophysics, or geochemistry science. Almost half of these schools also offer post-graduate degrees.
  • The Teanaway Community Forest
  • The Geology and Earth Sciences Division
  • The geology of this region, the South Cascades and Columbia Basin provinces

One thing we know for sure is that we’re going to continue enjoying the forests’ mysterious rock formations, no matter how long it takes us to fully understand them.

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