Portland is a great location for studying Geology because we have just about everything. We are a volcanic region with over 25 extinct volcanoes and volcanic vents within the city limits and we can see three active volcanoes, including Mount Saint Helens, from the city. We reside just within the margin of the flood basalt limit (Columbia River Basalts) and our gardening patterns depend greatly on the pattern of deposits left over from the great glacial outburst floods from glacial Lake Missoula. If you like landslides, we have plenty of those as well, one within walking distance of the university.
Portland is midway between the coast and the Cascade Range, each about an hour away. Along the coast we have tsunami deposits and subduction related uplift/downdrop events. In the mountains we have steeply graded rivers and much debris flow activity and deposits. On Mount Hood, in addition to its volcanic activity, the edifice is mantled with glaciers, the closest of which is only a one and a half hours away.
Further east marks the northern extension of the Basin and Range province in the dry, sagebrush region of Eastern Oregon. Huge Pleistocene lakes once surrounded the many volcanoes, obsidian and tuff deposits and now only small remnant lakes remain. Fossil deposits reveal the Miocene fauna and flora that once existed there. In the southeast corner, just within the Great Basin Desert are hot springs teeming with microbial life that leave geologic deposits important for interpreting similar deposits in our distant past on Earth or possible life forms on other planets. This region is also an important source area of meteorites critical to our enlarging meteorite collection and to our research.
We are also fortunate to have the US Geological Survey Oregon Water Science Center here on campus. They are the lead agency for surface water and groundwater investigations in the state. Collaborations with the USGS are important to the faculty and students alike. And some of the USGS scientists are on our faculty. Another USGS office, the Cascade Volcano Observatory, is not far away across the river in Washington. They are the lead agency on volcano study and we have been collaborating with them for many years.
And did I mention we feel the occasional earthquake? What better place to study geology, it's a geological paradise!