First Advisor

Ashley R. Streig

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Geology and University Honors




Dendrochronology, Earthquakes -- Oregon -- Netarts Bay, Stratigraphic geology, Radiocarbon dating




I present new dendrochronologic age constraints from a buried tree slab collected below the marsh surface at Netarts Bay, Oregon. A ghost forest is apparent at low tide on the central-eastern margin of Netarts Bay. 120 meters inland from the bay front, incision into marsh exposures reveal buried trees protruding 1.43 meters below the marsh surface and extending from the 4th layer of buried marsh soils overlain by tsunami sands. I interpret this stratigraphic sequence as evidence for tectonic subsidence and abrupt paleotsunami inundation. Prior research at the southern marsh at Netarts Bay has correlated Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) ruptures to the stratigraphic record with sediment cores that have a pattern of marsh soils overlain by a sharp contact to sand, transitioning to mud and then marsh soils again, bulk sample radiocarbon dating, and diatom analysis. Sediment cores collected at the ghost forest site show the same stratigraphic pattern indicative of CSZ related subsidence. I correlated ghost forest trees exposed along the bay with trees protruding from incised marsh stratigraphy with both differential GPS and lidar elevation measurements for several ghost forest trees. I collected a cross section slab from a buried ghost forest tree, sanded the slab, counted growth rings at a consistent decadal interval, and submitted select samples for C14 accelerator mass spectrometry age dating. The species of the tree is an Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia) which has no salinity tolerance and can grow close to sea level. I have wiggle matched C14 ages and the known interval between tree ring samples to the C14 calibration curve using OxCal 4.3, to find that the tree died 286-392 CE at a 95.4% confidence interval, and 290-313 CE at a 68.2% confidence interval. I compared the dendrochronologically constrained death of the trees with other on-shore and off-shore paleoseismic studies that constrained the timing of prehistoric CSZ ruptures, indicating that this was the 5th prehistoric earthquake back from present.


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