Rock avalanches blocked streams in the Olympic Mountains southwest of Puget Sound during the past few thousand years. Limiting radiocarbon ages indicated that three or four of six avalanches occurred from 1000 to 1300 years ago or shortly thereafter. Most of the dates were from the outer preserved rings of trees drowned behind avalanche dams. These three or four avalanches may be coeval not only with one another but also with abrupt tectonic deformation in western Washington. No rock avalanches in the Olympic Mountains are known to have resulted from storms or earthquakes during the past century. The avalanches strengthen the case that a large prehistoric earthquake occurred in the Puget Sound region.
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Prehistoric rock avalanches in the Olympic Mountains, Washington