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UPDATED: Oregon Coast Showing Its Underbelly: Ghost Forests, Prehistoric Bedrock

Published 02/10/2016 at 4:01 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Newport, Oregon) – UPDATED: Chunks of Lincoln County and Lane County beaches along the central Oregon coast have been sliced open and showing their insides because of recent storms. And it means some awesome discoveries for agate hunters, as well as remarkable sights such as craggy bedrock more than 22 million years old and 4,000-year-old ghost forests. (Photo above: ghost forest stump at Seal Rock).

The storms have also wreaked havoc on numerous beach accesses in both counties, making for some impressive reminders of nature's might. This does appear to be happening in the north Oregon coast counties of Tillamook County and Clatsop County.

The ghost forest stumps have become extremely rare in recent years, with sand levels not getting low enough to see them for some time. The only ones visible now are just south of Seal Rock at the Curtis Street access. And there's not much of them, so you'll want to hurry to see them as they won't be around long.

There are about four visible near the entrance: others may be further down the beach.

The ones at Seal Rock are four thousand years old, having been preserved by getting sucked under sediment and/or sand about that time, and kept from the decaying actions of oxygen. Exactly how that happened isn't known for sure. Some scientists think it was an abrupt dropping of the Earth because of a massive quake, while others think it was a slightly more gradual change of environment that swallowed them, perhaps taking a few years or decades.

The ghost forests at Neskowin are about 2,000 years old or less, and they can be seen almost year-round.


There are numerous such ghost forest stumps at Moolack Beach by Newport, but these are still covered up. This is puzzling because there is a massive labyrinth of bedrock now visible here, and normally that also leaves the stumps covered.

When bedrock is on display, this is where the agates are. This week's pleasant weather and low tides found near-hordes combing the normally sandy stretches of Moolack Beach, and beaches near Yachats such as Bob Creek.

All those surreal rocky slabs at Moolack (photo above) are made up largely of mudstone, and part of the 22 million-year-old Nye Mudstone formation, showing as olive-gray mudstone and siltstone, which weather into colors like a rusty brown. Fish scales and other tiny bits of fossils have been found here.


Lots of this is prevalent right now at Bob Creek (seen from above in the above photo) as well, along with the usual shell middens from local tribes. Part of the beach access you walk down shows a lot of white, hard rock-like shells. These are discarded seafood shells from local tribes – and they're always visible. They could be 100's to thousands of years old.

The bedrock at Bob Creek is around 40 million years old.

At least as impressive is the damage to some regional beach accesses. The rest stop and green grass area in Lincoln City known as Siletz Bay Park is closed off due to broken chunks of land and hazards. Also closed is the pier at Siletz Bay as part of that has been rendered unstable.


The most eye-popping park destruction is halfway between Florence and Yachats, where Stonefield Beach has temporarily lost its parking lot – and more than half of its driveway. The beach looks like it moved 70 feet inland, with the small road strewn with sand and massive logs. This area is usually opened up by late spring, but you can still head down to Stonefield Beach. It's just a slightly longer walk. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat

For more on these areas and other parts of the Oregon coast, click here for virtual tours and maps
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Bob Creek this week


Three small tips of the stumps at Seal Rock

 

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