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Geologic map of the greater Portland metropolitan area and surrounding region, Oregon and Washington

October 8, 2020

The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Metropolitan Area (metro area) has great scenic, natural, and cultural resources and is the major economic hub of Oregon. The metro area is subject to a variety of geologic hazards. Underthrusting of the oceanic plate along the Cascadia plate boundary fault, or megathrust, deforms the leading edge of North America and produces earthquakes on the megathrust and in the overlying plate. Rising magma from the deeper parts of the subduction zone produces active volcanoes that form the Cascades Arc, including Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens visible from Portland. Both volcanism and strong ground-shaking from earthquakes have impacted the metro area, most recently in the 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens and the 1993 magnitude (M) 5.7 Scotts Mills earthquake. Great offshore earthquakes as large as M 9 on the Cascadia megathrust have shaken the metro area every 500 years or so, most recently in 1700. Giant floods have inundated the metro area, from the ice age Missoula floods about 20,000 to 15,000 years ago to the flood generated by collapse of the Bridge of the Gods landslide dam on the Columbia River around 1421–1447 A.D.

Geologic resources of the metro area include the southern part of the Mist Natural Gas Storage Field in the northwest corner of the map area, the Columbia South Shore Well Field aquifer in the Portland Basin, the Columbia River Basalt aquifer of the Tualatin Basin, and the Tualatin Basin Aquifer Storage and Recovery projects. The metro area includes several well-known American Viticultural Areas in the western part of the map area and numerous transportation, electrical transmission, and pipeline corridors.

We created this map to provide a uniform, modern geologic database for the greater Portland metro area to better understand its tectonic setting, active faults, volcanoes, landslide hazards, and distribution of geologic materials and resources. Information in this database will be used to improve seismic hazard and resource assessments in this economically important region.