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50,000-year-old well-preserved trees found in Oregon hillside

Extremely well-preserved trees, which were buried in a landslide 50,000 years ago, have been uncovered by transportation works digging into a hill in Oregon.

“They were cedar logs and they had bark on them. They had root wads on them. There were small branches,” he said. “You don’t see well-preserved wood 150 feet below grade too often, and when you do, you have to imagine, how did it get there?”

With his geological background and knowledge of earth movements in the area, Squire knew it had to be a major ancient slide.

“It was probably a brutal day out here (when the landslide happened) if you were a deer or an elk and it takes down the forest and the trees and the whole works,” he said.

Squire began snapping pictures of the find and immediately got scientists at Oregon State University, the University of Arizona and Fresno State onboard. Carbon dating proved the trees were between 50,000 and 60,000 years old.

Those dates are important to Portland State University geologist Scott Burns, an authority on landslides and debris flows.

“That gives us the date when the tree died and then it is telling us when that particular landslide probably occurred,” he said.

Burns said it’s another piece to the puzzle for geologists studying not only these devastating events but also the giant historical earthquakes which have occurred along the coastline.

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