First Advisor

Scott F. Burns

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology





Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 150 p.)


Contact relations, and bedrock and overburden characteristics for approximately 8100 ha of the upper Canyon Creek basin, Skamania County, Washington, have been assessed in order to determine the causes and extent of failures and to assign slope failure susceptibilities to the area. The study area is located in the western Cascade Range on land administered by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Clear-cutting over the past 30 years has impacted between 50% to 80% of the study area. The total surface area occupied by failure deposits (198.6 ha) is less than 2.5% of the study area. Failures occur by one of seven processes, in decreasing order of abundance: rockfall (53.6%), rock avalanche (25.3%), slumps (15.6%), streambank failures (3.4%), soil and debris slips (1%), snow avalanches (debris falls) (1%), and translational slides (0.1%). Integrity of the bedrock is primarily influenced by jointing characteristics, in particular: dilation, orientation and continuity. Groundwater is an important constituent in the failure of fragmental igneous bedrock, but has very little impact in inducing failure in compact igneous bedrock. Areas underlain by fragmental igneous bedrock have a proportionally greater number of translational and rotational failures. With increasing compact igneous bedrock content, small volume rockfall failures become more predominant. Sixteen to twenty percent of the roadbed surfaces in the study area are experiencing some type of failure. Up to 99 percent of roadbed failures are confined to the roadfill prism. Failure due to degradation of the subgrade is rarely obseived. Arcuate and sliver-like cracks, offsets, sinkholes, concentrations of potholes, broad slumps and chute formation in the roadfill are indicators of failure. Ditches without culverts, or with poorly placed, damaged or leaking culverts, result in oversaturation and piping within the fill which may lead to failure of the road. The potential for slope failure is assigned a rating of low, moderate or high. These ratings are based on a qualitative assessment of the impact of various factors on the factor of safety, through their ability to reduce the cohesion and friction of affected rock and soil masses. Low susceptibility areas cover approximately 10 percent of the area (810 ha). Slopes are less than 3.5 degrees. Nearly 70 percent of the study area can be classified as moderately susceptable (5670 ha). Slopes in these areas range up to the natural angle of repose. The high susceptibility category covers areas with near vertical slopes, continuous rockfall, previous failures or strong indications of potential failure. These areas cover about 20 percent of the basin ( 1620 ha) and include areas of actual failure and adjacent areas which have not failed but possess similar bedrock, cultural and groundwater characteristics.


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Persistent Identifier

Plate1.pdf (22406 kB)
Bedrock Geologic Map Plate 1 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

Plate2.pdf (20545 kB)
Quaternary Deposits Plate 2 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

Plate3.pdf (19231 kB)
Landslide Inventory Map Plate 3 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

Plate4.pdf (18360 kB)
Slope Failure Susceptibility Map Plate 4 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

Plate5.pdf (18719 kB)
Seep Location Map Plate 5 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

Plate6.pdf (18416 kB)
Road Failure Location Map Plate 6 Upper Canyon Creek Drainage Basin

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