Puget Sound

Puget Sound

Puget Sound (pronEng|ˈpjuːʤᵻt) is an arm of the Pacific Ocean, connected to the rest of the Pacific by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It branches out from Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south.cite web
author = Pacific Science Center
authorlink =Pacific Science Center
title =Geology of Puget Sound
work =PSC website
date =2000-05-24
url =http://exhibits.pacsci.org/puget_sound/PSGeology.html
accessdate = 2007-05-28
] The surrounding land partially overlaps the Seattle metropolitan area, home to about 4 million people.

Name and definition

There are various definitions of the extent and boundaries of Puget Sound.

In 1792 George Vancouver gave the name "Puget's Sound" to the waters south of the Tacoma Narrows, in honor of Peter Puget, then a lieutenant accompanying him on the Vancouver Expedition. The name later came to be used for the waters north of Tacoma Narrows as well. [cite book |last= Kruckeberg |first= Arthur R. |title= The Natural History of Puget Sound Country |year= 1991 |publisher= University of Washington Press |location= Seattle |isbn= 0-295-97477-X |pages= pp. 427-428]

The USGS defines Puget Sound as all the waters south of three entrances — the main entrance at Admiralty Inlet being a line between Point Wilson, on the Olympic Peninsula, and Point Partridge, on Whidbey Island; a second entrance at Deception Pass being a line from West Point, on Whidbey Island, to Deception Island and Rosario Head, on Fidalgo Island; and a third entrance at the south end of the Swinomish Channel, which connects Skagit Bay and Padilla Bay. [gnis|1507653|Puget Sound] Under this definition, Puget Sound includes the waters of Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, Possession Sound, Saratoga Passage, and others. It does not include Bellingham Bay, Padilla Bay, the waters of the San Juan Islands or anything farther north.

Another definition, given by NOAA, subdivides Puget Sound into five basins or regions. Four of these correspond to areas within the USGS definition, but the fifth one, called "Northern Puget Sound" includes a large additional region. It is defined as bounded to the north by the international boundary with Canada, and to the west by a line running north from the mouth of the Sekiu River on the Olympic Peninsula. [ [http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/publications/techmemos/tm44/environment.htm Environmental History and Features of Puget Sound] , see also: [http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/publications/techmemos/tm44/fig4.htm Map of subareas of Puget Sound] , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service] Under this definition significant parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia are included in Puget Sound, with the international boundary marking an abrupt and hydrologically arbitrary limit.

According to Arthur Kruckeberg, the term "Puget Sound" is sometimes used for waters north of Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass, especially for areas along the north coast of Washington and the San Juan Islands, essentially equivalent to NOAA's "Northern Puget Sound" subdivision described above. Kruckeberg uses the term "Puget Sound and adjacent waters".

An alternative term for Puget Sound, still used by only some Native Americans and environmental groups, is "Whulge" (or "Whulj"), an Anglicization of the Lushootseed name "'WulcH", which means "Salt Water". [cite book |last= Thrush |first= Coll |title= Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place |year= 2007 |publisher= University of Washington Press |isbn= 0-295-98700-6 |pages= p. 220] . Another neologism also popularized by environmental and aboriginal groups is Salish Sea, but this does not have wide acceptance nor a single standard meaning from one group to the next. Sometimes the terms "Puget Sound" and "Puget Sound and adjacent waters" are used for not only Puget Sound proper but also for waters to the north, such as Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands region.cite book |last= Kruckeberg |first= Arthur R. |title= The Natural History of Puget Sound Country |year= 1991 |publisher= University of Washington Press |location= Seattle |isbn= 0-295-97477-X }pages= pp. 61-64]


George Vancouver explored Puget Sound in 1792. Vancouver claimed it for Great Britain on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers, Lieutenant Peter Puget. It became part of the Oregon Country, and became U.S. territory when the 1846 Oregon Treaty was signed.

After arriving along the Oregon Trail, many settlers wandered north to what is now Washington State and settled the Puget Sound area. The first non-Aboriginal settlement was New Market (now known as Tumwater) in 1846. In 1853 Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory. In 1888 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound, linking the region to eastern states.

For a long period Tacoma was noted for its large smelters where gold, silver, copper and lead ores were treated. Seattle was the primary port for trade with Alaska and the rest of the country and for a time possessed a large shipbuilding industry. The region around eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during the period including World War I and World War II, and the Boeing Company became an established icon in the area.

During World War II the Puget Sound area became a focus for the war industry, with Boeing producing many of the nation's heavy bombers and the ports of Seattle, Bremerton and Tacoma available for shipbuilding.

Since 1995, Puget Sound has been recognized as an American Viticultural Area by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. [http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr;sid=bff700d0bbb2a632948b70fe7e91d7d4;rgn=div5;view=text;node=27%3A1.;idno=27;cc=ecfr#27: Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.151 Puget Sound."] Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2008.]


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines Puget Sound as a bay with numerous channels and branches; more specifically, it is a fjord system of flooded glacial valleys. Puget Sound is part of a larger physiographical structure termed the Puget Trough, which is a physiographic section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System.cite web | title = Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S. | publisher = U.S. Geological Survey | url = http://water.usgs.gov/GIS/metadata/usgswrd/XML/physio.xml | accessdate = 2007-12-06 ]

Puget Sound is a very large salt water estuary, or system of many estuaries, fed by highly seasonal freshwater from the Olympic and Cascade Mountain watersheds. [ Fresh inflow ranges between a peak of about 367,000 cubic feet per second (10,400 m³/s) to a minimum of about 14,000 ft³/s (400 m³/s).] The northern boundary is Admiralty Inlet, between Point Partridge on Whidbey Island and Point Wilson on the Olympic Peninsula. A second entrance is Deception Pass, between West Point on Whidbey Island and Rosario Head on Fidalgo Island. [Gnis|1507653]

The Sound has been reshaped by the scouring action and till deposition of the Wisconsin Glaciation, which extended in this region as far south as Olympia; the soils of the region, less than ten thousand years old, are still characterized as immature. During glacial maximum a large meltwater lake formed at the icewall's forefront, drained by the Chehalis River; its sediments form the blue-gray clay identified as the Lawton Clay. As icebergs calved off the toe of the glacier, their embedded gravels and boulders were deposited in the chaotic mix of unsorted till geologists call "glaciomarine drift." Many beaches about the Sound display glacial erratics, rendered more prominent than those in coastal woodland solely by their exposed position; submerged glacial erratics sometimes provide hazards to navigation. The sheer weight of glacial-age ice depressed the landforms, which experienced isostatic rebound after the ice sheets had retreated; because the rate of rebound was not synchronous with the post-ice age rise in sea levels, the bed of what is Puget Sound, filled alternately with fresh and with sea water. The upper level of the lake-sediment Lawton Clay now lies about 120 feet (37 m) above sea level.

The Puget Sound system consists of four deep basins connected by shallower sills. The four basins are Hood Canal, west of the Kitsap Peninsula, Whidbey Basin, east of Whidbey Island, South Sound, south of the Tacoma Narrows, and the Main Basin, which is further subdivided into Admiralty Inlet and the Central Basin. [ftp://dnr.metrokc.gov/dnr/library/2001/kcr762/PDFELEMENTS/SONR03.pdf Features Of Puget Sound Region: Oceanography And Physical Processes] , Chapter 3 of the [http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wlr/watersheds/puget/nearshore/sonr.htm, State of the Nearshore Report] , King County Department of Natural Resources, Seattle, Washington, 2001.] Puget Sound's sills, a kind of submarine terminal moraine, separate the basins from one another, and Puget Sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Three sills are paricularly significant — the one at Admiralty Inlet which checks the flow of water between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget sound, the one at the entrance to Hood Canal (about convert|175|ft|m|disp=s|abbr=on below the surface), and the one at the Tacoma Narrows (about convert|145|ft|m|disp=s|abbr=on). Other sills that present less of a barrier include the ones at Blake Island, Agate Pass, Rich Passage, and Hammersley Inlet.

The depth of the basins is a result of the Sound being part of the Cascadia subduction zone, where the terranes accreted at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted under the North American Plate: there has not been a major subduction zone earthquake here since the magnitude nine Cascadia Earthquake; according to Japanese records, it occurred 26 January 1700. Lesser Puget Sound earthquakes with shallow epicenters, caused by the fracturing of stressed oceanic rocks as they are subducted still cause great damage. The Seattle Fault cuts across Puget Sound, crossing just north of Vashon Island and dipping under the city of Seattle [ [http://www.cyberwest.com/cw23/puget_seismic_stress.shtml "Ancient seismic stresses at work in Puget Sound region" "Cyberwest Magazine" 9 June 2004] ] . To the south, the existence of a second fault, the Tacoma Fault has buckled the intervening strata in the Seattle Uplift.

Typical Puget Sound profiles of dense glacial till overlying permeable glacial outwash of gravels above an impermeable bed of silty clay may become unstable after periods of unusually wet weather and slump in landslides. [ [http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/landslides/about/geology.html Washington State Department of Ecology:"Puget Sound landslides"] ]


The urban region designated the Puget Sound Region is centered on Seattle, Washington, and consists of nine counties, two urban center cities and four satellite cities making up what has been dubbed "Pugetopolis". [For examples of the use of "Pugetopolis" see, for example, [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,835680,00.html Pugetopolis] , TIME Magazine; [http://books.google.com/books?id=fQT5bkm_jOkC Puget Sound: Sea Between the Mountains] , at Google Books, p. 46; [http://books.google.com/books?id=3i1iVXcHiasC Frommer's Washington State] , at Google Books, p. 17; and [http://books.google.com/books?id=JpO0Gq0mdkQC Western Cordillera and Adjacent Area] , at Google Books, p. 197.] Both urban core cities have large industrial areas and seaports plus a high-rise central business district. The satellite cities are primarily suburban, featuring a small downtown core and a small industrial area or port. The suburbs consist mostly of residences, strip malls, and shopping centers. The region is also home to numerous ports. The two largest and busiest are the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, which, if combined, comprise the second largest container port in North America after Los Angeles/Long Beach.

A unique state-run ferry system, the Washington State Ferries, connects the larger islands to the Washington mainland, as well as both sides of the sound, allowing cars and people to move about the greater Puget Sound region.


Geoduck: It is estimated that more than 100 million geoducks are packed into Puget Sound's sediments. Also known as "king clam," geoducks are considered to be a delicacy in Asian countries.

Counties of the Puget Sound region

*Island County
*Jefferson County
*King County
*Kitsap County
*Lewis County
*Mason County
*Pierce County
*Skagit County
*Snohomish County
*Thurston CountyIn addition, the San Juan Islands (all of San Juan County plus a few islands belonging to Whatcom County) are often considered part of the greater Puget Sound area.Fact|date=April 2008

Prominent islands

*Anderson Island
*Bainbridge Island
*Blake Island
*Camano Island
*Fidalgo Island
*Fox Island
*Harstine Island
*Herron Island
*Indian Island
*Marrowstone Island
*Maury Island
*McNeil Island
*Squaxin Island
*Vashon Island
*Whidbey Island

Urban centers


atellite cities


Other principal cities

*Des Moines
*Federal Way
*Mount Vernon

Military Bases

*Fort Lewis
*Camp Murray
*McChord Air Force Base
*NS Everett ( [http://www.everett.navy.mil/ website] )
*NB Kitsap ( [http://www.nbk.navy.mil/ website] )
**Bangor Annex
**Bremerton Annex
*Puget Sound NSY ( [http://www.psns.navy.mil/ website] )
*NAS Whidbey Island ( [http://www.naswi.navy.mil/pao/index.htm website] )

Puget Sound in music and movies

*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle", by the grunge band Nirvana.
*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "This Place Is a Prison", by indie-rock band the Postal Service.
*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "Number Ten", by the indietronica group Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.
*Puget Sound features in the "Tugboat Annie" magazine stories, movies, and television series.
*Puget Sound is the title of a song by UK based DJ Aim from the album "Flight 602"
*Puget Sound is the title of a song by UK based band Gillan on the album "Mr. Universe".
*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "Thrice All-American", by Neko Case.
*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "Underground" by anti-folk singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson. It is featured on the album "Remember That I Love You".
*Puget Sound is mentioned in the song "Hello Seattle", by Owl City.
*Puget Sound is the setting for "The Wicker Man" starring Nicholas Cage. Puget Sound is shown as a place where women rule over their male counterparts and sacrifice other men for a successful harvest.
*San Piedro, the fictional island setting for David Guterson's "Snow Falling on Cedars", is in the waters of Puget Sound. David Guterson himself lives on Bainbridge Island.

ee also

*Puget Sound AVA
*List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations
*Seattle Metropolitan Area
*Peter Puget


Further reading

*Jones, M.A. (1999). "Geologic framework for the Puget Sound aquifer system, Washington and British Columbia" [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1424] . Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
*cite book|author=Prosser, William Farrand|title=A history of the Puget Sound country : its resources, its commerce and its people : with some reference to discoveries and explorations in North America from the time of Christopher Columbus down to that of George Vancouver in 1792, when the beauty, richness and vast commercial advantages of this region were first made known to the world|publisher=Lewis Pub. Co.|year=1903 [http://www.secstate.wa.gov/history/publications%5Fdetail.aspx?p=15 Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection]

External links

* [http://www.psrc.org Puget Sound Regional Council] The four-county regional coordination and planning organization for the Puget Sound region. It is charged with transportation, land use, and economic development planning for the region.
* [http://www.prosperitypartnership.org Prosperity Partnership] An award winning economic development coalition, dedicated to growing jobs and securing long-term prosperity in the Puget Sound region.
* [http://content.lib.washington.edu/vanolindaweb/index.html University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections – Oliver S. Van Olinda Photographs] A collection of 420 photographs depicting life on Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, Seattle, and other communities of Washington State's Puget Sound from the 1880s through the 1930s.
* [http://exhibits.pacsci.org/puget_sound/PSGeology.html Pacific Science Center: Geology of Puget Sound]
* [http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/ships/pastquak.html USGS:Puget Sound earthquake origins]
* [ftp://dnr.metrokc.gov/dnr/library/2001/kcr762/PDFELEMENTS/SONR03.pdf Features Of Puget Sound Region: Oceanography And Physical Processes] , Chapter 3 of the [http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wlr/watersheds/puget/nearshore/sonr.htm, State of the Nearshore Report] , King County Department of Natural Resources, Seattle, Washington, 2001.

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