World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Puget Sound

Article Id: WHEBN0000023682
Reproduction Date:

Title: Puget Sound  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Climate change in Washington, MV Kulshan, SS Asbury Park, Sound (geography), Mount Rainier
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Puget Sound

Puget Sound
Puget Sound – MODIS image
Named for: Peter Puget
Country United States
State Washington
Region puget sound lowlands
Cities Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Everett, Bremerton
Rivers Deschutes River, Nisqually River, Puyallup River, Duwamish River, Cedar River, Snohomish River, Stillaguamish River, Skagit River, Skokomish River
Length 100 mi (161 km) [1]
Width 10 mi (16 km)
Depth 205 ft (62 m) [1]
Volume [1]
Basin 12,138 sq mi (31,437 km2) [2]
Area 1,020 sq mi (2,642 km2) [1]
 - average 41,000 cu ft/s (1,161 m3/s) [1]
 - max 367,000 cu ft/s (10,392 m3/s)
 - min 14,000 cu ft/s (396 m3/s)

Puget Sound is a sound along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is a complex estuarine[3] system of interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and one minor connection to the open Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de FucaAdmiralty Inlet being the major connection and Deception Pass being the minor. Flow through Deception Pass accounts for about 2% of the total tidal exchange between Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.[1] Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles (160 km) from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south. Its average depth is 450 feet (140 m)[4] and its maximum depth, off Point Jefferson between Indianola and Kingston, is 930 feet (280 m). The depth of the main basin, between the southern tip of Whidbey Island and Tacoma, Washington, is approximately 600 feet (180 m).[1]

The term "Puget Sound" is used not just for the body of water but also the Puget Sound region centered on the sound.

Name and definition

In 1792 Tacoma Narrows, in honor of Peter Puget, a Huguenot lieutenant accompanying him on the Vancouver Expedition. This name later came to be used for the waters north of Tacoma Narrows as well.[5]

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.[6] 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 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".[8]

An alternative term for Puget Sound, still used by some Native Americans and environmental groups, is Whulge (or Whulj), an Anglicization of the Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands region.[8]


Snowcapped peaks are a backdrop to many Puget Sound scenes; here Mount Rainier is seen from Gig Harbor.

Continental ice sheets have repeatedly advanced and retreated from the Puget Sound region. The most recent glacial period, called the Fraser Glaciation, had three phases, or stades. During the third, or Vashon Glaciation, a lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, called the Puget Lobe, spread south about 15,000 years ago, covering the Puget Sound region with an ice sheet about 3,000 feet (910 m) thick near Seattle, and nearly 6,000 feet (1,800 m) at the present Canada-US border. Since each new advance and retreat of ice erodes away much of the evidence of previous ice ages, the most recent Vashon phase has left the clearest imprint on the land. At its maximum extent the Vashon ice sheet extended south of Olympia to near Tenino, and covered the lowlands between the Olympic and Cascade mountain range. About 14,000 years ago the ice began to retreat. By 11,000 years ago it survived only north of the Canadian border.[10]

The melting retreat of the Vashon Glaciation eroded the land, creating a drumlin field of hundreds of aligned drumlin hills. Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish (which are ribbon lakes), Hood Canal, and the main Puget Sound basin were altered by glacial forces. These glacial forces are not specifically "carving", as in cutting into the landscape via the mechanics of ice/glaciers, but rather eroding the landscape from melt water of the Vashon Glacier creating the drumlin field. As the ice retreated, vast amounts of glacial till were deposited throughout the Puget Sound region.[1] The soils of the region, less than ten thousand years old, are still characterized as immature.

As the Vashon glacier receded a series of proglacial lakes formed, filling the main trough of Puget Sound and inundating the southern lowlands. Glacial Lake Russell was the first such large recessional lake. From the vicinity of Seattle in the north the lake extended south to the Black Hills, where it drained south into the Chehalis River.[11] Sediments from Lake Russell form the blue-gray clay identified as the Lawton Clay. The second major recessional lake was Glacial Lake Bretz. It also drained to the Chehalis River until the Chimacum Valley, in the northeast Olympic Peninsula, melted, allowing the lake's water to rapidly drain north into the marine waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which was rising as the ice sheet retreated.[11]

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 the southern tip of Bainbridge Island and under Elliott Bay.[12] 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.[13]


Low Tide Whidbey Island

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.[14]

Puget Sound is a large salt water estuary, or system of many estuaries, fed by highly seasonal freshwater from the Olympic and Cascade Mountain watersheds. The mean annual river discharge into Puget Sound is 41,000 cubic feet per second (1,200 m3/s), with a monthly average maximum of about 367,000 cubic feet per second (10,400 m3/s) and minimum of about 14,000 cubic feet per second (400 m3/s). Puget Sound's shoreline is 1,332 miles (2,144 km) long, encompassing a water area of 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) and a total volume of 26.5 cubic miles (110 km3) at mean high water. The average volume of water flowing in and out of Puget Sound during each tide is 1.26 cubic miles (5.3 km3). The maximum tidal currents, in the range of 9 to 10 knots, occurs at Deception Pass.[1]

Evening on Puget Sound by Edward S. Curtis, 1913

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.[15] 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 particularly 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 175 ft or 53 m below the surface), and the one at the Tacoma Narrows (about 145 ft or 44 m). Other sills that present less of a barrier include the ones at Blake Island, Agate Pass, Rich Passage, and Hammersley Inlet.[8]

The size of Puget Sound's Fraser River.[17] Significant rivers that drain to "Northern Puget Sound" include the Nooksack, Dungeness, and Elwha Rivers. The Nooksack empties into Bellingham Bay, the Dungeness and Elwha into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Chilliwack River flows north to the Fraser River in Canada.

Tides in Puget Sound are of the mixed type with two high and two low tides each tidal day. These are called Higher High Water (HHW), Lower Low Water (LLW), Lower High Water (LHW), and Higher Low Water (HLW). The configuration of basins, sills, and interconnections cause the tidal range to increase within Puget Sound. The difference in height between the Higher High Water and the Lower Low Water averages about 8.3 feet (2.5 m) at Port Townsend on Admiralty Inlet, but increases to about 14.4 feet (4.4 m) at Olympia, the southern end of Puget Sound.[1]

Puget Sound is generally accepted as the start of the Inside Passage.[18][19]

Mount Rainier looms over the still waters of Totten Inlet, one of the Sound's southern fjords. Mason County, Washington.

Flora and fauna

Important marine flora of Puget Sound include eelgrass (Zostera marina)[20] and kelp, especially bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana).[21]

Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Among the marine mammals species found in Puget Sound are harbor seals (Phoca vitulina).[22] Orca (Orcinus orca) are famous throughout the Sound, and are a large tourist attraction. Although orca are sometimes seen in Puget Sound proper they are far more prevalent around the San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound.[23]

Many fish species occur in Puget Sound. The various salmonid species, including salmon, trout, and char are particularly well-known and studied. Salmonid species of Puget Sound include chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), chum salmon (O. keta), coho salmon (O. kisutch), pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), sockeye salmon (O. nerka), sea-run coastal cutthroat trout (O. clarki clarki), steelhead (O. mykiss irideus), sea-run bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), and Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma malma).[24][25]

Common forage fishes found in Puget Sound include Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus), and Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus).[26] Important benthopelagic fish of Puget Sound include North Pacific hake (Merluccius productus), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocelhalus), walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), and the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias).[27] There are about 28 species of Sebastidae (rockfish), of many types, found in Puget Sound. Among those of special interest are copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus), quillback rockfish (S. maliger), black rockfish (S. melanops), yelloweye rockfish (S. ruberrimus), bocaccio rockfish (S. paucispinis), canary rockfish (S. pinniger), and Puget Sound rockfish (S. emphaeus).[28]

Many other fish species occur in Puget Sound, such as sturgeons, lampreys, various sharks, rays, and skates.[29]

Puget Sound is home to numerous species of marine invertebrates, including sponges, sea anemones, chitons, clams, sea snails, limpets crabs, barnacles starfish, sea urchins, and sand dollars.[30] Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) occur throughout Washington waters, including Puget Sound.[31] Many bivalves occur in Puget Sound, such as Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and geoduck clams (Panopea generosa). The Olympia oyster (Ostreola conchaphila), once common in Puget Sound, was depleted by human activities during the 20th century. There are ongoing efforts to restore Olympia oysters in Puget Sound.[32]

Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

There are many seabird species of Puget Sound. Among these are grebes such as the western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis); loons such as the common loon (Gavia immer); auks such as the pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba), rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata), common murre (Uria aalge), and marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus); the brant goose (Branta bernicla); seaducks such as the long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis), harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus), and surf scoter (Melanitta perspicillata); and cormorants such as the double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus). Puget Sound is home to a non-migratory and marine-oriented subspecies of great blue herons (Ardea herodias fannini).[33] Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) occur in relative high densities in the Puget Sound region.[34]


U.S. Coast Survey nautical chart of Puget Sound, Washington Territory, 1867
Puget Sound is located in USA
Puget Sound
Puget Sound, Washington

Great Britain on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers, Lieutenant Peter Puget.[35]

After 1818 Britain and the United States, which both claimed the Oregon Country, agreed to "joint occupancy", deferring resolution of the Oregon boundary dispute until the 1846 Oregon Treaty. Puget Sound was part of the disputed region until 1846, after which it became US territory.

American maritime fur traders visited Puget Sound in the early 19th century.[36]

The first European settlement in the Puget Sound area was Fort Nisqually, a fur trade post of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) built in 1833.[37] Fort Nisqually was part of the HBC's Columbia District, headquartered at Fort Vancouver. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the HBC, established farms and ranches near Fort Nisqually. British ships such as the Beaver, exported foodstuffs and provisions from Fort Nisqually.[38]

The first American settlement on Puget Sound was black and the Provisional Government of Oregon banned the residency of mulattoes but did not actively enforce the restriction north of the river.[39]

In 1853 Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory.[40] In 1888 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound, linking the region to eastern states.[41]


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 people and cars to move about the greater Puget Sound region.

View southwest from the Space Needle, overlooking (left to right) Elliott Bay, Duwamish Head, Puget Sound, and Restoration Point.

Environmental issues

In the past 30 years there has been a large recession in the populations of the species which inhabit the Puget Sound. The decrease has been seen in the populations of: forage fish, salmonids, bottom fish, marine birds, harbor porpoise and orcas. This decline is attributed to the various environmental issues in Puget Sound. Because of this population decline, there have been changes to the fishery practices, and an increase in petitioning to add species to the Endangered Species Act. There has also been an increase in recovery and management plans for many different area species.[42]

The causes of these environmental issues are toxic contamination, eutrophication (low oxygen due to excess nutrients), and near shore habitat changes.[42]

Prominent islands

In popular media

When talking about a crucial piece of evidence in episode 4 of the 4th season of The Killing, Detective Linden says "It's probably somewhere in the Puget Sound by now."

In the best selling book Fifty Shades Of Grey Puget Sound is referenced many times.

The Puget Sound is mentioned in multiple songs including "Hello Seattle" by Owl City, "This Place is a Prison" by The Postal Service, "Volcano" by The Presidents of the United States of America and "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle" by Nirvana among others.[43]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lincoln, John H. "The Puget Sound Model Summary".  
  2. ^ a b "Watershed Boundary Dataset".   ArcExplorer GIS data viewer.
  3. ^ "Basic Information about Estuaries".  
  4. ^ "Saving the Sound". Washington State Department of Ecology. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Kruckeberg, Arthur R. (1991). The Natural History of Puget Sound Country. Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 427–428.  
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Puget Sound
  7. ^ Environmental History and Features of Puget Sound, see also: Map of subareas of Puget Sound, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service
  8. ^ a b c Kruckeberg, Arthur R. (1991). The Natural History of Puget Sound Country. Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 61–64.  
  9. ^ Thrush, Coll (2007). Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place. University of Washington Press. p. 220.  
  10. ^ Kruckeberg (1991), pp. 18–23.
  11. ^ a b Baum, Rex L.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Highland, Lynn (2008). Landslides and engineering geology of the Seattle, Washington, area. Volume 20 of Reviews in engineering geology. Geological Society of America. pp. 12–13.  
  12. ^ 9 June 2004Cyberwest Magazine"Ancient seismic stresses at work in Puget Sound region"
  13. ^ Washington State Department of Ecology:"Puget Sound landslides"
  14. ^ "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S.". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Features of Puget Sound Region: Oceanography and P". Seattle: King County Department of Natural Resources. 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Puget Sound Basin NAWQA".  
  17. ^ "List Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) – USGS Washington".  
  18. ^ Merriam-Webster, Richard (2000). Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia. Merriam-Webster. p. 808.  
  19. ^ Manning, Richard (2001). Inside Passage: A Journey Beyond Borders. Island Press. p. 113.  
  20. ^ "Eelgrass". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Kelp". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "Harbor seals". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  23. ^ "Killer Whales". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "Salmonids". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  25. ^ "Puget Sound Shorelines: Salmon". Washington Department of Ecology. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Forage Fishes". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  27. ^ "Bentho-Pelagic Fish". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  28. ^ "Rockfish". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Taxonomic List of Puget Sound Fishes". Burke Museum. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Kruckeberg, Arthur R. (1995). The Natural History of Puget Sound Country. University of Washington Press. p. 79.  
  31. ^ "Dungeness Crabs". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  32. ^ "Bivalves". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  33. ^ "Marine birds". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "Bald eagles". Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  35. ^ Hayes, Derek (1999). Historical atlas of the Pacific Northwest: maps of exploration and discovery : British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Yukon. Sasquatch Books. pp. 85–86.  
  36. ^ Mackie, Richard Somerset (1997). Trading beyond the mountains: the British fur trade on the Pacific, 1793–1843. UBC Press. p. 146.  
  37. ^ "History of Fort Nisqually". Metro Parks Tacoma. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Mackie, Richard Somerset (1997). Trading beyond the mountains: the British fur trade on the Pacific, 1793–1843. UBC Press. pp. 235–239.  
  39. ^ "Tumwater History". City of Tumwater, WA. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  40. ^ "Settlers met at Monticello to sign a petition asking Congress to create a separate territory north of the Columbia River". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  41. ^ "First trains cross the Northern Pacific Railroad bridge spanning the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick on December 3, 1887".  
  42. ^ a b "2007 Puget Sound Update: Ninth Report of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program". Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  43. ^ "puget sound". Retrieved 2014-10-26. 

Further reading

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.