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Waterfall Erosion under Trees

Waterfall Erosion under Trees
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Waterfall Erosion Under Treeroots

Waterfall Erosion Under Treeroots

This waterfall flows over and underneath tree roots north of Longmire Meadow on the southwest flank of Mount Rainier. As a geoarchaeologist, I often think of tree roots growing within the soil, which later deposits bury. However, we often find the dirt associated with roots to be dark and extremely loose compared to nearby strata. This photograph illustrates one of the reasons why: the waterfall gouged out the soil through the tree roots and transported it downstream. Later, other transported soil, rocks, leaf litter and duff from upslope will fill in the space. This may even happen after something large covers the tree roots, so the items below the roots may actually be younger than those above. Trippy.

The Trail of the Shadows within Mount Rainier National Park passes this spot on the way to its confluence with the Rampart Ridge Trail. Both of these paths begin near Longmire. This portion of Mount Rainier, which is a member of the Cascade Mountain Range in western North America, can be accessed through Ashford, Washington, southeast of Tacoma.

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Waterfall Erosion Under Treeroots by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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One Comment

  1. Thus a highly specific site, most soils tree erode and only flood sediment which is as old but newly introduced to the site perhaps would fill, or slide through would remove from the site thus depleting upslope darker soils eroded. The one that fascinated me in 1974 was conifer litter on the very steep Austrian base slopes, near the flat alluvial plain, altered by decades of new deposits, moving as you stand on it and full of ants (wood very large) working uphill moving litter fines back upslope. Present process, but as Moody and others note forest soils tend to be active and short lived, even moorland soil piping soon becomes open channel. Mike Stagg BScWales Hydrology soils Geology UCW 1969

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