Reconnaissance engineering geology of the Haines area, Alaska, with emphasis on evaluation of earthquake and other geologic hazards

Open-File Report 72-229
By:  and 



The Alaska earthquake of March 27, 1964, brought into sharp focus the need for engineering geologic studies in urban areas. Study of the Haines area constitutes an integral part of an overall program to evaluate earthquake and other geologic hazards in most of the larger Alaska coastal communities. The evaluations of geologic hazards that follow, although based only upon reconnaissance studies and, therefore, subject to revision, will provide broad guidelines useful in city and land-use planning. It is hoped that the knowledge gained will result in new facilities being built in the best possible geologic environments and being designed so as to minimize future loss of life and property damage. Haines, which is in the northern part of southeastern Alaska approximately 75 miles northwest of Juneau, had a population, of about 700 people in 1970. It is built at the northern end of the Chilkat Peninsula and lies within the Coast Mountains of the Pacific Mountain system. The climate is predominantly marine and is characterized by mild winters and cool summers. The mapped area described in this report comprises about 17 square miles of land; deep fiords constitute most of the remaining mapped area that is evaluated in this study. The Haines area was covered by glacier ice at least once and probably several times during the Pleistocene Epoch. The presence of emergent marine deposits, several hundred feet above sea level, demonstrates that the land has been uplifted relative to sea level since the last major deglaciation of the region about 10,000 years ago. The rate of relative uplift of the land at Haines during the past 39 years is 2.26 cm per year. Most or all of this uplift appears to be due to rebound as a result of deglaciation. Both bedrock and surficial deposits are present in the area. Metamorphic and igneous rocks constitute the exposed bedrock. The metamorphic rocks consist of metabasalt of Mesozoic age and pyroxenite of probable early middle Cretaceous age. The igneous rocks consist of diorite and quartz diorite (tonalite) of Cretaceous age. Sedimentary rocks of Tertiary age may be present in the mapped area but are not exposed. The surficial deposits of Quaternary age,-have been divided into the following map units on the basis of time Of deposition, mode of origin, and grain size: (1) undifferentiated drift deposits, (2) outwash and Ice-contact deposits; (3) elevated fine-grained marine deposits, (4) elevated shore and delta deposits, (5) alluvial fan deposits, (6) colluvial deposits, (7) modern beach deposits, (8) Chilkat River flood-plain and delta deposits, and (9) manmade fill. Offshore deposits are described but are not mapped. Southeastern Alaska lies within the tectonically active belt that rims the northern Pacific Basin and has been active since at least early Paleozoic time. The outcrop pattern is the result of late Mesozoic and Tertiary deformational, metamorphic, and intrusive events. Large-scale faulting has been common. The two most prominent inferred fault systems in southeastern Alaska and surrounding regions are: (1) The Denali fault system and (2) the Fairweather-Queen Charlotte Islands fault system. In the general area of Haines, rocks of Mesozoic age northeast of Chilkat River have a simple monoclinal structure. Paleozoic-Mesozoic rocks southwest of Chilkat River are gently to rather complexly folded. Several major and numerous minor faults probably transect the general area of Haines but their exact location and character can only be inferred because their traces are coincident to the long axes of fiords and river valleys, where they are concealed by water or by valley-floor deposits. Inferred faults in or near the Haines mapped area are: (1) Chilkat River fault, (2) Chilkoot fault, (3) Takhin fault, and (4) faults in the saddle area at Haines. Southeastern Alaska lies in one of the two most seismically active zones in Alaska, a State where 6 percent of the world's shallow earthqua
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Reconnaissance engineering geology of the Haines area, Alaska, with emphasis on evaluation of earthquake and other geologic hazards
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 72-229
DOI 10.3133/ofr72229
Edition -
Year Published 1972
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey],
Description iii, 109 p. :ill. (some folded), maps (2 folded) ;27 cm.; 2 sheets, scale 1:24,000
Scale 24000
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