Geologic Map of the Greater Portland Metropolitan Area and Surrounding Region, Oregon and Washington

Scientific Investigations Map 3443
Prepared in Cooperation with Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and Washington Geological Survey
By: , and 



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.

NOTE: The sheet 1 map was divided into two parts—sheet 1 (north) and sheet 1 (south)—to facilitate printing and plotting the map.

Suggested Citation

Wells, R.E., Haugerud, R.A., Niem, A.R., Niem, W.A., Ma, L., Evarts, R.C., O’Connor, J.E., Madin, I.P., Sherrod, D.R., Beeson, M.H., Tolan, T.L., Wheeler, K.L., Hanson, W.B., and Sawlan, M.G., 2020, Geologic map of the greater Portland metropolitan area and surrounding region, Oregon and Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3443, pamphlet 55 p., 2 sheets, scale 1:63,360,

ISSN: 2329-132X (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Previous Work
  • Geologic History
  • Earth Resources
  • Map Compilation
  • Acknowledgments
  • Description of Map Units
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geologic map of the greater Portland metropolitan area and surrounding region, Oregon and Washington
Series title Scientific Investigations Map
Series number 3443
DOI 10.3133/sim3443
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center, Volcano Science Center
Description Pamphlet: iv, 55 p.; 2 Sheets: 58.43 x 60.16 inches and 38.76 x 30.86 inches; Table 3; Database; Metadata; Read Me
Country United States
State Oregon, Washington
Other Geospatial Greater Portland metropolitan area and surrounding region
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details