Puget Sound
Overview
 
Puget Sound is a sound
Sound (geography)
In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord; or it may be defined as a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land ....

 in the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Washington. It is a complex estuarine
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 system of interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and one minor connection to the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about long that is the Salish Sea outlet to the Pacific Ocean...

 and the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 — Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet is a strait in the U.S. state of Washington connecting the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound. It lies between Whidbey Island and the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula....

 being the major connection and Deception Pass
Deception Pass
Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. It connects Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca.-History:...

 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. Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles (160.9 km) from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Olympia is the capital city of the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat of Thurston County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1859. The population was 46,478 at the 2010 census...

 in the south.
Encyclopedia
Puget Sound is a sound
Sound (geography)
In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord; or it may be defined as a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land ....

 in the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Washington. It is a complex estuarine
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 system of interconnected marine waterways and basins, with one major and one minor connection to the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about long that is the Salish Sea outlet to the Pacific Ocean...

 and the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 — Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet is a strait in the U.S. state of Washington connecting the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound. It lies between Whidbey Island and the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula....

 being the major connection and Deception Pass
Deception Pass
Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. It connects Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca.-History:...

 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. Puget Sound extends approximately 100 miles (160.9 km) from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Olympia is the capital city of the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat of Thurston County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1859. The population was 46,478 at the 2010 census...

 in the south. Its average depth is 205 feet (62.5 m) and its maximum depth, off Point Jefferson between Indianola
Indianola, Washington
Indianola is a census-designated place in Kitsap County, Washington, United States, located on the north shore of Port Madison on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, home of the Suquamish Indian Tribe. The population was 3,500 at the 2010 census...

 and Kingston
Kingston, Washington
-External links:* *...

, is 930 feet (283.5 m). The depth of the main basin, between the southern tip of Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is one of nine islands located in Island County, Washington, in the United States. Whidbey is located about north of Seattle, and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington...

 and Tacoma, Washington, is approximately 600 feet (182.9 m).

The term "Puget Sound" is used not just for the body of water but also the general region
Puget Sound region
The Puget Sound region is an inland area of the Pacific Northwest in Washington , including Puget Sound, the Puget Sound lowlands, and the surrounding region roughly west of the Cascade Range and east of the Olympic Mountains.- History :...

 centered on the sound.

Name and definition

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

In 1792 George Vancouver
George Vancouver
Captain George Vancouver RN was an English officer of the British Royal Navy, best known for his 1791-95 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon...

 gave the name "Puget's Sound" to the waters south of the Tacoma Narrows
Tacoma Narrows
The Tacoma Narrows , a strait, is part of Puget Sound in the U.S. state of Washington. A navigable maritime waterway between glacial landforms, the Narrows separates the Kitsap Peninsula from the city of Tacoma....

, in honor of Peter Puget
Peter Puget
Peter Puget was an officer in the Royal Navy, best known for his exploration of Puget Sound.-Mr. Midshipman Puget:Puget's ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV's persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget's...

, a lieutenant accompanying him on the Vancouver Expedition
Vancouver Expedition
The Vancouver Expedition was a four-and-a-half-year voyage of exploration and diplomacy, commanded by Captain George Vancouver. The expedition circumnavigated the globe, touched five continents and changed the course of history for the indigenous nations and several European empires and their...

. The name later came to be used for the waters north of Tacoma Narrows as well.

The USGS
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 defines Puget Sound as all the waters south of three entrances — the main entrance at Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet is a strait in the U.S. state of Washington connecting the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound. It lies between Whidbey Island and the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula....

 being a line between Point Wilson
Point Wilson
Point Wilson is at the end of the Quimper Peninsula, a northeast extension of the Olympic Peninsula and the northeastern most point of Jefferson County, Washington, United States, approximately two miles north of the Port Townsend business district....

, on the Olympic Peninsula
Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula is the large arm of land in western Washington state of the USA, that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Puget Sound. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous...

, and Point Partridge
Point Partridge
Point Partridge is the most westerly point of Whidbey Island, the largest island in Puget Sound. The point lies north of the Fort Ebey military reservation and south of West Beach. The primary importance of Point Partridge is as the northern and eastern reference point for the dividing line...

, on Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is one of nine islands located in Island County, Washington, in the United States. Whidbey is located about north of Seattle, and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington...

; a second entrance at Deception Pass
Deception Pass
Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. It connects Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca.-History:...

 being a line from West Point, on Whidbey Island, to Deception Island and Rosario Head, on Fidalgo Island
Fidalgo Island
Fidalgo Island is an island in Skagit County, Washington, located about north of Seattle. To the east, it is separated from the mainland by the Swinomish Channel, and from Whidbey Island to the south by Deception Pass...

; and a third entrance at the south end of the Swinomish Channel
Swinomish Channel
The Swinomish Channel is a salt-water channel in Washington state, United States, which connects Skagit Bay, to the south, and Padilla Bay, to the north....

, which connects Skagit Bay
Skagit Bay
Skagit Bay is a bay and strait located in the U.S. state of Washington. It is part of the Whidbey Island Basin of Puget Sound. The Skagit River empties into Skagit Bay. To the south, Skagit Bay connects with the rest of Puget Sound via Saratoga Passage and Possession Sound...

 and Padilla Bay
Padilla Bay
Padilla Bay is bay located in the U.S. state of Washington, between the San Juan Islands and the mainland. Fidalgo Island and Guemes Island lie to the west of Padilla Bay. Guemes Channel, between the islands, connects Padilla Bay to Rosario Strait...

. Under this definition, Puget Sound includes the waters of Hood Canal
Hood Canal
Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western lobe, and one of the four main basins, of Puget Sound in the state of Washington. Hood Canal is not a canal in the sense of being a man-made waterway—it is a natural waterway.-Geography:...

, Admiralty Inlet, Possession Sound
Possession Sound
Possession Sound is part of Puget Sound, located in the U.S. state of Washington between Whidbey Island and the coastline of Snohomish County approximately between the cities of Everett and Mukilteo. Possession Sound connects the main Puget Sound basin to the south with Saratoga Passage and Port...

, Saratoga Passage
Saratoga Passage
Saratoga Passage lies in Puget Sound between Whidbey Island and Camano Island.Saratoga Passage extends about 18 miles in a northwesterly direction from its entrance between Sandy Point on the Whidbey Island side and Camano Head on the other. At its northern end, Saratoga Passage connects with Penn...

, and others. It does not include Bellingham Bay
Bellingham Bay
Bellingham Bay is a bay located on the northern Pacific coast of Washington state in the United States. It is separated from the Strait of Georgia on the west by the Lummi Peninsula, Portage Island, and Lummi Island. It is bordered on the east by Bellingham, Washington, to the south-east by the...

, Padilla Bay
Padilla Bay
Padilla Bay is bay located in the U.S. state of Washington, between the San Juan Islands and the mainland. Fidalgo Island and Guemes Island lie to the west of Padilla Bay. Guemes Channel, between the islands, connects Padilla Bay to Rosario Strait...

, the waters of the San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of the U.S...

 or anything farther north.

Another definition, given by NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

, 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
Sekiu River
The Sekiu River is a long river in the U.S. state of Washington.http://www.clallam.net/streamkeepers/assets/applets/western_strait.pdf The mouth of the river empties into Puget Sound from the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam County in The river has an additional of tributaries connected to it...

 on the Olympic Peninsula. Under this definition significant parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about long that is the Salish Sea outlet to the Pacific Ocean...

 and the Strait of Georgia
Strait of Georgia
The Strait of Georgia or the Georgia Strait is a strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada. It is approximately long and varies in width from...

 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
Lushootseed
Lushootseed is the language or dialect continuum of several SalishNative American groups of modern-day Washington state...

 name WulcH, which means "Salt Water". Since 2009 the term Salish Sea
Salish Sea
The name Salish Sea was coined only in the late 20th century, and was officially recognized by the United States in 2009 and by Canada in 2010, to describe the coastal waterways surrounding southern Vancouver Island and Puget Sound between Canada and the United States of America...

 has been established by the United States Board on Geographic Names
United States Board on Geographic Names
The United States Board on Geographic Names is a United States federal body whose purpose is to establish and maintain uniform usage of geographic names throughout the U.S. government.-Overview:...

 as the collective waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia
Strait of Georgia
The Strait of Georgia or the Georgia Strait is a strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada. It is approximately long and varies in width from...

. 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
Bellingham Bay
Bellingham Bay is a bay located on the northern Pacific coast of Washington state in the United States. It is separated from the Strait of Georgia on the west by the Lummi Peninsula, Portage Island, and Lummi Island. It is bordered on the east by Bellingham, Washington, to the south-east by the...

 and the San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of the U.S...

 region.

History

George Vancouver
George Vancouver
Captain George Vancouver RN was an English officer of the British Royal Navy, best known for his 1791-95 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon...

 explored Puget Sound in 1792. Vancouver claimed it for Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 on 4 June 1792, naming it for one of his officers, Lieutenant Peter Puget
Peter Puget
Peter Puget was an officer in the Royal Navy, best known for his exploration of Puget Sound.-Mr. Midshipman Puget:Puget's ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV's persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget's...

.

After 1818 Britain and the United States, which both claimed the Oregon Country
Oregon Country
The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed ownership region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from...

, agreed to "joint occupancy", deferring resolution of the Oregon boundary dispute
Oregon boundary dispute
The Oregon boundary dispute, or the Oregon Question, arose as a result of competing British and American claims to the Pacific Northwest of North America in the first half of the 19th century. Both the United Kingdom and the United States had territorial and commercial aspirations in the region...

 until the 1846 Oregon Treaty
Oregon Treaty
The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to the Oregon Country, which had been jointly occupied by...

. Puget Sound was part of the disputed region until 1846, after which it became US territory.

American maritime fur trade
Maritime Fur Trade
The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and natives of Alaska. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese...

rs visited Puget Sound in the early 19th century.

The first European settlement in the Puget Sound area was Fort Nisqually
Fort Nisqually
Fort Nisqually was an important fur trading and farming post of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Puget Sound area of what is now DuPont, Washington and was part of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department. Today it is a living history museum located in Tacoma, Washington, USA, within the...

, a fur trade post of the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 (HBC) built in 1833. Fort Nisqually was part of the HBC's Columbia District
Columbia District
The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810...

, headquartered at Fort Vancouver
Fort Vancouver
Fort Vancouver was a 19th century fur trading outpost along the Columbia River that served as the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in the company's Columbia District...

. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the HBC, established farms and ranches near Fort Nisqually. British ships such as the Beaver
Beaver (steamship)
Beaver was the first steamship to operate in the Pacific Northwest of North America. She made remote parts of the west coast of Canada accessible for maritime fur trading and was chartered by the Royal Navy for surveying the coastline of British Columbia....

, exported foodstuffs and provisions from Fort Nisqually.

The first American settlement on Puget Sound was Tumwater
Tumwater, Washington
Tumwater is a city in Thurston County, Washington, United States. It lies near where the Deschutes River enters Budd Inlet, the southernmost point of Puget Sound. The population was 17,371 at the 2010 census...

. It was founded in 1845 by Americans who had come via the Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

. The decision to settle north of the Columbia River was made in part because one of the settlers, George Washington Bush
George Washington Bush
George Washington Bush was one of the first American settlers and the first black settler in what would later become the U.S. state of Washington.-Early life:...

, was considered black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 and the Provisional Government of Oregon
Provisional Government of Oregon
The Provisional Government of Oregon was a popularly elected government created in the Oregon Country, in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It existed from May 2, 1843 until March 3, 1849. Created at a time when no country had sovereignty over the region, this independent government...

 banned the residency of mulattoes but did not actively enforce the restriction north of the river.

In 1853 Washington Territory
Washington Territory
The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from February 8, 1853, until November 11, 1889, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Washington....

 was formed from part of Oregon Territory
Oregon Territory
The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Oregon. Originally claimed by several countries , the region was...

. In 1888 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound, linking the region to eastern states.

Hydrology

The United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 (USGS) defines Puget Sound as a bay
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 with numerous channels and branches; more specifically, it is a fjord
Fjord
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.-Formation:A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice...

 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
Pacific Border province
The Pacific Border province is a physiographic province of the Physiographic regions of the world physical geography system.-Description:The Pacific Border province encompasses most of the North American Pacific Coast, with the southern end at the start of the Lower California-Peninsular Ranges...

, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System.

Puget Sound is a large salt water estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

, or system of many estuaries, fed by highly seasonal freshwater from the Olympic and Cascade Mountain watersheds. The mean annual river discharge
Discharge (hydrology)
In hydrology, discharge is the volume rate of water flow, including any suspended solids , dissolved chemical species and/or biologic material , which is transported through a given cross-sectional area...

 into Puget Sound is 41000 cuft/s, with a monthly average maximum of about 367000 cuft/s and minimum of about 14000 cuft/s. Puget Sound's shoreline is 1332 miles (2,143.6 km) long, encompassing a water area of 1020 square miles (2,641.8 km²) and a total volume of 26.5 cubic miles (110.5 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.

The Puget Sound system consists of four deep basins connected by shallower sills. The four basins are Hood Canal
Hood Canal
Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western lobe, and one of the four main basins, of Puget Sound in the state of Washington. Hood Canal is not a canal in the sense of being a man-made waterway—it is a natural waterway.-Geography:...

, west of the Kitsap Peninsula
Kitsap Peninsula
The Kitsap Peninsula is an arm of land that is part of the larger Olympic Peninsula in Washington state that lies west of Seattle across Puget Sound. Hood Canal separates Kitsap Peninsula from the rest of the Olympic Peninsula...

, Whidbey Basin, east of Whidbey Island, South Sound, south of the Tacoma Narrows
Tacoma Narrows
The Tacoma Narrows , a strait, is part of Puget Sound in the U.S. state of Washington. A navigable maritime waterway between glacial landforms, the Narrows separates the Kitsap Peninsula from the city of Tacoma....

, and the Main Basin, which is further subdivided into Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet
Admiralty Inlet is a strait in the U.S. state of Washington connecting the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound. It lies between Whidbey Island and the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula....

 and the Central Basin. Puget Sound's sills, a kind of submarine terminal moraine
Terminal moraine
A terminal moraine, also called end moraine, is a moraine that forms at the end of the glacier called the snout.Terminal moraines mark the maximum advance of the glacier. An end moraine is at the present boundary of the glacier....

, 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 (53.3 m) below the surface), and the one at the Tacoma Narrows (about 145 ft (44.2 m)). Other sills that present less of a barrier include the ones at Blake Island
Blake Island
Blake Island is an island in Washington state in the United States. It lies in the middle of Puget Sound, north of Vashon Island, south of Bainbridge Island and east of Manchester....

, Agate Pass
Agate Pass
Agate Pass or Agate Passage is a high-current tidal strait in Puget Sound connecting Port Madison and Port Orchard. It lies between Bainbridge Island and the mainland of the Kitsap Peninsula near Suquamish. It is the northern entrance to Port Orchard, extending about one mile in a straight,...

, Rich Passage
Rich Passage
Rich Passage is a tidal strait in Puget Sound, allowing access to Bremerton, Washington, Port Orchard Bay and Dyes Inlet, and separating Bainbridge Island from the Manchester area of the Kitsap Peninsula. Due to the activities at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Rich Passage has a high volume of...

, and Hammersley Inlet
Hammersley Inlet
Hammersley Inlet, in southwestern Puget Sound in the U.S. state of Washington, is an arm of water leading to Shelton, Washington and Oakland Bay. Hammersley Inlet is also known as Big Skookum.-Description:...

.

The size of Puget Sound's watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 is 12138 sq mi (31,437.3 km²). "Northern Puget Sound" is frequently considered part of the Puget Sound watershed, which enlarges its size to 13700 sq mi (35,482.8 km²). The USGS uses the name "Puget Sound" for its hydrologic unit
Hydrological code
A hydrological code or hydrologic unit code is a sequence of numbers or letters that identify a hydrological feature like a river, river reach, lake, or area like a drainage basin ....

 subregion 1711, which includes areas draining to the Puget Sound proper as well as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, and the Fraser River
Fraser River
The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for , into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the tenth longest river in Canada...

. Significant rivers that drain to "Northern Puget Sound" include the Nooksack
Nooksack River
The Nooksack River is a river in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. It drains an area of the Cascade Range around Mount Baker, near the Canadian border. The lower river flows through a fertile agricultural area before emptying into Bellingham Bay and, via the Strait of Juan de Fuca...

, Dungeness
Dungeness River
The Dungeness River is a long river located in the Olympic Peninsula in the U.S. state of Washington. It rises near Mount Constance in the Olympic Mountains within the Olympic National Park, flows through the Buckhorn Wilderness, passes by the town of Sequim, and empties into the Strait of Juan de...

, and Elwha River
Elwha River
The Elwha River is a -long river located on the Olympic Peninsula in the U.S. state of Washington. From its source at Elwha snowfinger in the Olympic Range of Olympic National Park it flows generally north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Most of the river is contained within Olympic National Park...

s. 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.

Tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s 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
Tidal range
The tidal range is the vertical difference between the high tide and the succeeding low tide. Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth...

 to increase within Puget Sound. The difference in height between the Higher High Water and the Lower Low Water averages about 0.3 foot (0.09144 m) at Port Townsend
Port Townsend, Washington
Port Townsend is a city in Jefferson County, Washington, United States, approximately north-northwest of Seattle . The population was 9,113 at the 2010 census an increase of 9.3% over the 2000 census. It is the county seat and only incorporated city of Jefferson County...

 on Admiralty Inlet, but increases to about 14.4 feet (4.4 m) at Olympia, the southern end of Puget Sound.

Puget Sound is generally accepted as the start of the Inside Passage
Inside Passage
The Inside Passage is a coastal route for oceangoing vessels along a network of passages which weave through the islands on the Pacific coast of North America. The route extends from southeastern Alaska, in the United States, through western British Columbia, in Canada, to northwestern Washington...

.

Geology

Continental ice sheet
Ice sheet
An ice sheet is a mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50,000 km² , thus also known as continental glacier...

s have repeatedly advanced and retreated from the Puget Sound region. The most recent glacial period
Glacial period
A glacial period is an interval of time within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate within an ice age...

, called the Fraser Glaciation, had three phases, or stades
Stadial
A stadial is a period of lower temperatures during an interglacial separating the glacial periods of an ice age. Such periods are of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered glacial periods...

. During the third, or Vashon Glaciation, a lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet
Cordilleran Ice Sheet
The Cordilleran ice sheet was a major ice sheet that covered, during glacial periods of the Quaternary, a large area of North America. This included the following areas:*Western Montana*The Idaho Panhandle...

, called the Puget Lobe, spread south about 15,000 years ago, covering the Puget Sound region with an ice sheet about 3000 feet (914.4 m) thick near Seattle, and nearly 6000 feet (1,828.8 m) at the present Canada-US border. Since each new advance of ice scours 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
Olympia, Washington
Olympia is the capital city of the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat of Thurston County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1859. The population was 46,478 at the 2010 census...

 to near Tenino
Tenino, Washington
Tenino is a city in Thurston County, Washington, United States. The population was 1,695 at the 2010 census.-History:Tenino was officially incorporated on July 24, 1906, though it existed as a rural community since the mid-19th century...

, and covered the lowlands between the Olympic and Cascade mountains. About 14,000 years ago the ice began to retreat. By 11,000 years ago it survived only north of the Canadian border.

The Vashon Glaciation scoured the land, creating a drumlin field
Drumlin field
A drumlin field is a cluster of dozens to hundreds of similarly shaped, sized and oriented drumlins, also called a drumlin swarm. Drumlins are one type of landform that indicate continental ice sheet glaciation...

 of hundreds of aligned drumlin
Drumlin
A drumlin, from the Irish word droimnín , first recorded in 1833, is an elongated whale-shaped hill formed by glacial ice acting on underlying unconsolidated till or ground moraine.-Drumlin formation:...

 hills. Lake Washington
Lake Washington
Lake Washington is a large freshwater lake adjacent to the city of Seattle. It is the largest lake in King County and the second largest in the state of Washington, after Lake Chelan. It is bordered by the cities of Seattle on the west, Bellevue and Kirkland on the east, Renton on the south and...

 and Lake Sammamish
Lake Sammamish
Lake Sammamish is a freshwater lake east of Seattle in King County, Washington, United States. The lake is long and wide, with a maximum depth of and a surface area of . It lies east of Lake Washington and west of the Sammamish Plateau, and stretches from Issaquah in the south to Redmond in...

 (which are ribbon lake
Ribbon lake
A ribbon lake or loch is a long and narrow, finger-shaped lake, usually found in a glacial trough. Its formation begins when a glacier moves over an area containing alternate bands of hard and soft bedrock...

s), Hood Canal, and the main Puget Sound basin were carved out by glacial forces. As the ice retreated, vast amounts of glacial till
Till
thumb|right|Closeup of glacial till. Note that the larger grains in the till are completely surrounded by the matrix of finer material , and this characteristic, known as matrix support, is diagnostic of till....

 were deposited throughout the Puget Sound region. 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 lake
Proglacial lake
In geology, a proglacial lake is a lake formed either by the damming action of a moraine or ice dam during the retreat of a melting glacier, or by meltwater trapped against an ice sheet due to isostatic depression of the crust around the ice...

s 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
Black Hills (Washington)
The Black Hills are a small range of hills in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties of Washington. They are a subset of the Willapa Hills. Capitol Peak is the highest peak in the range....

, where it drained south into the Chehalis River. 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
Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula is the large arm of land in western Washington state of the USA, that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Puget Sound. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous...

, 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.

The depth of the basins is a result of the Sound being part of the Cascadia subduction zone
Cascadia subduction zone
The Cascadia subduction zone is a subduction zone, a type of convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. It is a very long sloping fault that separates the Juan de Fuca and North America plates.New ocean floor is being created offshore of...

, where the terrane
Terrane
A terrane in geology is short-hand term for a tectonostratigraphic terrane, which is a fragment of crustal material formed on, or broken off from, one tectonic plate and accreted or "sutured" to crust lying on another plate...

s accreted at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Plate
Juan de Fuca Plate
The Juan de Fuca Plate, named after the explorer of the same name, is a tectonic plate, generated from the Juan de Fuca Ridge, and subducting under the northerly portion of the western side of the North American Plate at the Cascadia subduction zone...

 are being subducted
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 under the North American Plate
North American Plate
The North American Plate is a tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland, Cuba, Bahamas, and parts of Siberia, Japan and Iceland. It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and westward to the Chersky Range in eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic crust...

. There has not been a major subduction zone earthquake
Megathrust earthquake
Megathrust earthquakes occur at subduction zones at destructive plate boundaries , where one tectonic plate is forced under another. Due to the shallow dip of the plate boundary, which causes large sections to get stuck, these earthquakes are among the world's largest, with moment magnitudes ...

 here since the magnitude
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

 nine Cascadia Earthquake
Cascadia earthquake
The 1700 Cascadia earthquake was a magnitude 8.7 to 9.2 megathrust earthquake that occurred in the Cascadia subduction zone on January 26, 1700. The earthquake involved the Juan de Fuca Plate underlying the Pacific Ocean, from mid-Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, south along the...

; according to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese records, it occurred 26 January 1700. Lesser Puget Sound earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s with shallow epicenter
Epicenter
The epicenter or epicentre is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates...

s, caused by the fracturing of stressed oceanic rocks as they are subducted, still cause great damage. The Seattle Fault
Seattle Fault
The Seattle Fault is a zone of multiple shallow east-west thrust faults that cross the Puget Sound Lowland and through Seattle in the vicinity of Interstate Highway 90...

 cuts across Puget Sound, crossing the southern tip of Bainbridge Island and under Elliot Bay. To the south, the existence of a second fault, the Tacoma Fault
Tacoma Fault
The Tacoma Fault, just north of the city of Tacoma, Washington, is an active east–west striking north dipping reverse fault with approximately 35 miles of identified surface rupture...

, 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.

Transportation

A unique state-run ferry system, the Washington State Ferries
Washington State Ferries
Washington State Ferries is a passenger and automobile ferry service owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation that serves communities on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. It is the most used ferry system in the world and the largest passenger and automobile...

, 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.

Flora and fauna

It is estimated that more than 100 million geoduck
Geoduck
The geoduck , Panopea generosa, is a species of very large saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Hiatellidae.The shell of this clam is large, about to over in length, but the very long siphons make the clam itself very much longer than this: the "neck" or siphons alone can be ...

s are packed into Puget Sound's sediments. Also known as "king clam," geoducks are considered to be a delicacy in Asian countries. Orcas are famous throughout the Sound, and are a large tourist attraction. Salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 flow in and out of Puget Sound and are a main food source for many marine animals. Pinnipeds include the harbor seal
Harbor Seal
The harbor seal , also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere...

, the Steller Sea Lion, the California Sea Lion
California Sea Lion
The California sea lion is a coastal sea lion of western North America. Their numbers are abundant , and the population continues to expand about 5% annually. They are quite intelligent and can adapt to man-made environments...

, and the occasional Northern Elephant Seal
Northern Elephant Seal
The northern elephant seal is one of two species of elephant seal . It is a member of the family Phocidae . Elephant seals derive their name from their great size and from the male's large proboscis, which is used in making extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating...

. Minke, Humpback whale
Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from and weigh approximately . The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the...

, and Grey Whales also live in the waters.

Prominent islands

  • Anderson Island
  • Bainbridge Island
  • Blake Island
    Blake Island
    Blake Island is an island in Washington state in the United States. It lies in the middle of Puget Sound, north of Vashon Island, south of Bainbridge Island and east of Manchester....

  • Camano Island
    Camano Island
    Camano Island is a large island in the Possession Sound portion of Puget Sound, located in Island County, Washington, between Whidbey Island and the mainland. The body of water separating Whidbey Island and Camano Island is called Saratoga Passage. Camano Island is separated from mainland...

  • Fidalgo Island
    Fidalgo Island
    Fidalgo Island is an island in Skagit County, Washington, located about north of Seattle. To the east, it is separated from the mainland by the Swinomish Channel, and from Whidbey Island to the south by Deception Pass...


  • Fox Island
    Fox Island, Washington
    Fox Island is a census-designated place in Pierce County, Washington, United States, on an island of the same name in Puget Sound. It is located approximately five miles from Gig Harbor. The island was named Fox by Charles Wilkes during the United States Exploring Expedition, to honor J.L. Fox, an...

  • Guemes Island
    Guemes Island
    Guemes Island is a small island in western Skagit County, Washington state, USA. It is located north of the town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island and is accessible by both private boat and by the Guemes Island ferry operated by Skagit County....

  • Harstine Island
    Harstine Island, Washington
    Harstine Island is an unincorporated community in Mason County, Washington, United States, located on a similarly named island. The island is located west of Case Inlet in southern Puget Sound, north of Olympia. It has a land area of , and had a population of 1,002 as of the 2000 census...

  • Herron Island
    Herron Island
    Herron Island is an island in central Case Inlet in the southern part of Puget Sound in the state of Washington, USA. The Pierce County island has a land area of 1.2326 km² and a population of 152 persons as of the 2000 census....

  • Indian Island
    Indian Island, Washington
    Indian Island is an unincorporated community in Jefferson County, Washington, United States. It is located between Port Townsend Bay and Kilisut Harbor. Parts also border on Oak Bay and Scow Bay. Until the construction of the Port Townsend Ship Canal Indian Island was connected to the mainland...

  • Marrowstone Island

  • Maury Island
    Maury Island
    Maury Island is a small island in Puget Sound in the U.S. state of Washington. It is connected to Vashon Island by an isthmus built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Before construction of the isthmus, the island was connected to Vashon only during low tide. The island is rural with...

  • McNeil Island
    McNeil Island
    McNeil Island is an island in western Puget Sound, located just west of Steilacoom, Washington, with a land area of 17.177 km² . It lies just north of Anderson Island. Fox Island is to the north, across Carr Inlet. To the west McNeil Island is separated from Key Peninsula by Pitt Passage. The...

  • Squaxin Island
    Squaxin Island
    Squaxin Island is in the extreme southwestern part of Puget Sound in Mason County, Washington, USA. The island is an Indian reservation of the Native American Squaxin Island Tribe. It once contained a Washington State Park by the same name, which has since been closed, and the land returned to the...

  • Vashon Island
    Vashon Island
    Vashon is a census-designated place in King County, Washington, United States. It covers an island alternately called Vashon Island or Vashon-Maury Island, the largest island in Puget Sound south of Admiralty Inlet. The population was 10,624 at the 2010 census. At , it is about 60 percent larger...

  • Whidbey Island
    Whidbey Island
    Whidbey Island is one of nine islands located in Island County, Washington, in the United States. Whidbey is located about north of Seattle, and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington...



See also

  • Salish Sea
    Salish Sea
    The name Salish Sea was coined only in the late 20th century, and was officially recognized by the United States in 2009 and by Canada in 2010, to describe the coastal waterways surrounding southern Vancouver Island and Puget Sound between Canada and the United States of America...

  • Back-arc basin
    Back-arc basin
    Back-arc basins are geologic features, submarine basins associated with island arcs and subduction zones.They are found at some convergent plate boundaries, presently concentrated in the Western Pacific ocean. Most of them result from tensional forces caused by oceanic trench rollback and the...

  • Environmental issues in Puget Sound
  • Fjords of Canada
  • Puget Sound region
    Puget Sound region
    The Puget Sound region is an inland area of the Pacific Northwest in Washington , including Puget Sound, the Puget Sound lowlands, and the surrounding region roughly west of the Cascade Range and east of the Olympic Mountains.- History :...

  • Puget Sound AVA
    Puget Sound AVA
    The Puget Sound AVA is an American Viticultural Area in western Washington state. It is the only AVA in the state of Washington that is located west of the Cascade Mountains.- Geography and climate :...

  • Seattle Metropolitan Area
    Seattle metropolitan area
    The Seattle metropolitan area in the US state of Washington includes the city of Seattle, King County, Snohomish County, and Pierce County within the Puget Sound region. The U.S...

  • Peter Puget
    Peter Puget
    Peter Puget was an officer in the Royal Navy, best known for his exploration of Puget Sound.-Mr. Midshipman Puget:Puget's ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV's persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget's...


Further reading


External links



47.83315°N 122.43458°W
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