Geology and landslide geomorphology of the Burpee Hills, Skagit County, Washington, USA
Landforms within the Skagit Valley record a complex history of land evolution from Late Pleistocene to the present. Late Pleistocene glacial deposits and subsequent incision by the Skagit River formed the Burpee Hills terrace. The Burpee Hills comprises an approximately 205-m-thick sequence of sediments, including glacio-lacustrine silts and clays, overlain by sandy advance outwash and capped by coarse till, creating a sediment-mantled landscape where mass wasting occurs in the form of debris flows and deep-seated landslides (Heller, 1980; Skagit County, 2014). Landslide probability and location are necessary metrics for informing citizens and policy makers of the frequency of natural hazards. Remote geomorphometric analysis of the site area using airborne LiDAR combined with field investigation provide the information to determine relative ages of landslide deposits, to classify geologic units involved, and to interpret the recent hillslope evolution. Thirty-two percent of the 28-km2 Burpee Hills landform has been mapped as landslide deposits. Eighty-five percent of the south-facing slope is mapped as landslide deposits. The mapped landslides occur predominantly within the advance outwash deposits (Qgav), this glacial unit has a slope angle ranging from 27 to 36 degrees. Quantifying surface roughness as a function of standard deviation of slope provides a relative age of landslide deposits, laying the groundwork for frequency analysis of landslides on the slopes of the Burpee Hills. The south-facing slopes are predominately affected by deep-seated landslides as a result of Skagit River erosion patterns within the floodplain. The slopes eroded at the toe by the Skagit River have the highest roughness coefficients, suggesting that areas with more frequent disturbance at the toe are more prone to sliding or remobilization. Future work including radiocarbon dating and hydrologic-cycle investigations will provide a more accurate timeline of the Burpee Hills hillslope evolution, and better information for emergency management and planners in the future.