Puget Sound region: Wikis


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The Puget Sound region is an inland area of the Pacific Northwest in Washington (State), including Puget Sound, the Puget Sound lowlands, and the surrounding region roughly west of the Columbia Basin and east of the Olympic Mountains.

Puget Sound



Evening on Puget Sound by Edward S. Curtis, 1913

15,000 years ago Seattle was under 3,000 feet (910 m) of ice. 11,000 B.P. Before that, the Puget Sound region was smashed together by shifting tectonic plates. By the time Captain George Vancouver found the Sound, early native people had already been there for over 5,000 years.

Logging started as early as 1853. In the 1880s logging railroads cut their way into Puget sound. 1886 the St. Helens fire burned 300,000 acres (1,200 km2). Mount Rainier National Park started in 1899. The 1902 Yacolt fire burned 600,000 acres (2,400 km2). Olympic National Park in 1938.[1]

George Vancouver explored Puget Sound in 1792. Vancouver claimed it for Great Britain on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers, Lieutenant Peter Puget. It became part of the Oregon Country, and became U.S. territory when the 1846 Oregon Treaty was signed.

After arriving along the Oregon Trail, many settlers wandered north to what is now Washington State and settled the Puget Sound area. The first non-Aboriginal settlement was New Market (now known as Tumwater) in 1846. In 1853 Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory. In 1888 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound, linking the region to eastern states.

For a long period Tacoma was noted for its large smelters where gold, silver, copper and lead ores were treated. Seattle was the primary port for trade with Alaska and the rest of the country and for a time possessed a large shipbuilding industry. The region around eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during the period including World War I and World War II, and the Boeing Company became an established icon in the area.

During World War II the Puget Sound area became a focus for the war industry, with Boeing producing many of the nation's heavy bombers and the ports of Seattle, Bremerton and Tacoma available for shipbuilding.

Since 1995, Puget Sound has been recognized as an American Viticultural Area by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. [2]


Low Tide Whidbey Island

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines Puget Sound as a bay with numerous channels and branches; more specifically, it is a fjord system of flooded glacial valleys. Puget Sound is part of a larger physiographical structure termed the Puget Trough, which is a physiographic section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System.[3]

Puget Sound is a very large salt water estuary, or system of many estuaries, fed by highly seasonal freshwater from the Olympic and Cascade Mountain watersheds.[4] The northern boundary is Admiralty Inlet, between Point Partridge on Whidbey Island and Point Wilson on the Olympic Peninsula. A second entrance is Deception Pass, between West Point on Whidbey Island and Rosario Head on Fidalgo Island.[5]

The Sound has been reshaped by the scouring action and till deposition of the Wisconsin Glaciation, which extended in this region as far south as Olympia; the soils of the region, less than ten thousand years old, are still characterized as immature. During glacial maximum a large meltwater lake formed at the icewall's forefront, drained by the Chehalis River; its sediments form the blue-gray clay identified as the Lawton Clay. As icebergs calved off the toe of the glacier, their embedded gravels and boulders were deposited in the chaotic mix of unsorted till geologists call glaciomarine drift. Many beaches about the Sound display glacial erratics, rendered more prominent than those in coastal woodland solely by their exposed position; submerged glacial erratics sometimes provide hazards to navigation. The sheer weight of glacial-age ice depressed the landforms, which experienced isostatic rebound after the ice sheets had retreated; because the rate of rebound was not synchronous with the post-ice age rise in sea levels, the bed of what is Puget Sound, filled alternately with fresh and with sea water. The upper level of the lake-sediment Lawton Clay now lies about 120 feet (37 m) above sea level.

Snowcapped peaks are a backdrop to many Puget Sound scenes; here Mount Rainier is seen from Gig Harbor.

The Puget Sound system consists of four deep basins connected by shallower sills. The four basins are Hood Canal, west of the Kitsap Peninsula, Whidbey Basin, east of Whidbey Island, South Sound, south of the Tacoma Narrows, and the Main Basin, which is further subdivided into Admiralty Inlet and the Central Basin.[6] Puget Sound's sills, a kind of submarine terminal moraine, separate the basins from one another, and Puget Sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Three sills are particularly significant — the one at Admiralty Inlet which checks the flow of water between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget sound, the one at the entrance to Hood Canal (about 175 ft/53 m below the surface), and the one at the Tacoma Narrows (about 145 ft/44 m). Other sills that present less of a barrier include the ones at Blake Island, Agate Pass, Rich Passage, and Hammersley Inlet.[7]

The depth of the basins is a result of the Sound being part of the Cascadia subduction zone, where the terranes accreted at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted under the North American Plate: there has not been a major subduction zone earthquake here since the magnitude nine Cascadia Earthquake; according to Japanese records, it occurred 26 January 1700. Lesser Puget Sound earthquakes with shallow epicenters, caused by the fracturing of stressed oceanic rocks as they are subducted still cause great damage. The Seattle Fault cuts across Puget Sound, crossing just north of Vashon Island and dipping under the city of Seattle [8]. To the south, the existence of a second fault, the Tacoma Fault has buckled the intervening strata in the Seattle Uplift.

Typical Puget Sound profiles of dense glacial till overlying permeable glacial outwash of gravels above an impermeable bed of silty clay may become unstable after periods of unusually wet weather and slump in landslides.[9]


The urban region designated the Puget Sound Region is centered on Seattle, Washington, and consists of nine counties, two urban center cities and four satellite cities making up what has been dubbed "Pugetopolis".[10] Both urban core cities have large industrial areas and seaports plus a high-rise central business district. The satellite cities are primarily suburban, featuring a small downtown core and a small industrial area or port. The suburbs consist mostly of residences, strip malls, and shopping centers. The region is also home to numerous ports. The two largest and busiest are the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, which, if combined, comprise the third largest container port in North America after Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York/New Jersey.[11]

A state-run ferry system, Washington State Ferries, connects the larger islands to the Washington mainland, as well as both sides of the sound, allowing cars and people to move about the greater Puget Sound region.

View of Puget Sound from the Space Needle

Flora and fauna

North Pacific Oak Woodland is one of the principal plant associations of the Puget Trough, where many of the soils are well drained mesic.[12]

Geoduck (goo-ey-duck) : It is estimated that more than 100 million geoducks are packed into Puget Sound's sediments. Also known as "king clam," geoducks are considered to be a delicacy in Asian countries.

Counties of the Puget Sound region

In addition, the San Juan Islands (all of San Juan County plus a few islands belonging to Whatcom County) are often considered part of the greater Puget Sound area.[citation needed]


Prominent islands

Urban centers

Satellite cities

Other principal cities

Military Bases

Puget Sound in music and movies

See also


  1. ^ Kruckeberg, Arthur R. (1999). A Natural History of the Puget Sound Basin pp.52-68
  2. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.151 Puget Sound." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2008.
  3. ^ "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S.". U.S. Geological Survey. http://water.usgs.gov/GIS/metadata/usgswrd/XML/physio.xml. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  4. ^ Fresh inflow ranges between a peak of about 367,000 cubic feet per second (10,400 m³/s) to a minimum of about 14,000 ft³/s (400 m³/s).
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Puget Sound region
  6. ^ Features Of Puget Sound Region: Oceanography And Physical Processes, Chapter 3 of the State of the Nearshore Report, King County Department of Natural Resources, Seattle, Washington, 2001.
  7. ^ Kruckeberg, Arthur R. (1991). The Natural History of Puget Sound Country. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0-295-97477-X }pages= pp. 61-64|0-295-97477-X }pages= pp. 61-64]]. 
  8. ^ "Ancient seismic stresses at work in Puget Sound region" Cyberwest Magazine 9 June 2004
  9. ^ Washington State Department of Ecology:"Puget Sound landslides"
  10. ^ For examples of the use of "Pugetopolis" see, for example, Pugetopolis, TIME Magazine; Puget Sound: Sea Between the Mountains, at Google Books, p. 46; Frommer's Washington State, at Google Books, p. 17; and Western Cordillera and Adjacent Area, at Google Books, p. 197.
  11. ^ "2005 North American Container Traffic". American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). http://www.aapa-ports.org/files/Statistics/2005_NORTH_AMERICAN_CONTAINER_TRAFFIC.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  12. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2008) Quercus kelloggii, GlobalTwitcher, ed. Nicklas Stromberg [1]

Further reading

  • Jones, M.A. (1999). Geologic framework for the Puget Sound aquifer system, Washington and British Columbia [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1424]. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Prosser, William Farrand (1903). A history of the Puget Sound country : its resources, its commerce and its people : with some reference to discoveries and explorations in North America from the time of Christopher Columbus down to that of George Vancouver in 1792, when the beauty, richness and vast commercial advantages of this region were first made known to the world. Lewis Pub. Co.. Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection

External links


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