Mount Rainier Volcano

 

If you were ever to visit or move to Seattle you would notice the tallest peak in the Cascade Mountains and that is Mount Rainier. Though it looks like a very tall mountain it is actually an active volcano. The Mount Rainier Volcano is the 21st in the list of the most prominent mountains in the world and it stands at 13,211 feet from its low point. It is also the most prominent mountain found in the lower continental United States. From peak of the Mount Rainier Volcano you can actually see another famous volcano in the area which is Mount St. Helens and you can also get a good look at Mount Adams, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Mount Hood.

Activity

The Mount Rainier Volcano is what is known as a giant stratovolcano and though it looks quiet it is still considered an active volcano. The last eruption from Mount Rainier took place in 1894 and it has been determined that the volcano has erupted at least a dozen times in 2,600 years. Its largest eruption took place close to 2,200 years ago. Due to the fact that the Mount Rainier Volcano is considered an active volcano there are several smaller high frequency tremors in the area. A lot of times the tremors take place every day. Each month there is a possibility of as many as five quakes taking place at the summit. According to scientists studying the mountain those earthquakes take place due to fluids which circulate inside Mount Rainier.

Craters

The Mount Rainier Volcano has two volcanic craters that overlap at the summit. Each one of these craters is over 1,000 feet around. There is also a small crater lake that can be found and that is 130 feet long and it has a 16 foot depth. This lake is the highest one in the continent when it comes to crater lakes. However, that lake is underneath 100 feet of ice and you can only reach it by going through a network of caves made of ice.

Dangers

The main danger that the Mount Rainier Volcano presents is that it is very close to a highly populated area. The Seattle-Tacoma region could be in grave danger should the volcano erupt again. At the moment scientists do not believe that there will be an eruption anytime soon but that could change as after all it is an active volcano. The population from both Seattle and Tacoma, in addition to the surrounding areas, adds up to close to 3.2 million people and evacuation would present challenges. Another problem is that the volcano is covered with ice. Because of that the USGS (US Geological Survey) has called Mount Rainier “potentially the most dangerous” volcano in the mainland US.

If an eruption took place at the Mount Rainier Volcano the ice on top could create lahars which are a volcanic mudflow that happens when rocks, lava and gas melt ice and create superheated slurry. When an eruption took place 5,600 years ago two of these giant lahars made their way and reached Puget Sound which pushed out the shoreline several miles. That possible danger is what makes Mount Rainier one of only two Decade volcanoes in the US.

Predictions

One of the best tools which geologists and other scientists have to predict volcanic activity is historic data. Unfortunately the Mount Rainier Volcano has not been very predictable. In fact, it could be called erratic for at least 1,000 years. Even so there are few volcanoes in the United States that are more monitored than Mount Rainier. The monitoring of Mount Rainier is done by the United States Geological Survey together with the University of Washington. Any potential hazards from the volcano’s activity will be assessed by those two entities. There are also plans to minimize any population growth in the area wherever it is possible, especially within the hazard zones. A response plan has been developed but due to the vast amount of people in the area it can be hard to put in place.

Facts About Mount Rainier

The name of the Mount Rainier Volcano was given by George Vancouver and it was in honor of Admiral Peter Rainier. There is a Native American name for Mount Rainier and that is Tahoma which means “the mountain that was God.” The peak of the mountain was not reached until August of 1870 by Hazard Stevens and by P. B. Van Trump. The area was designated a National Park in 1899 and every year 2 million people visit the area. Though it looks very close to Seattle it is actually located 87 miles away. Tacoma is a bit closer at only 65 miles and several smaller towns are even closer. Though the volcano is not considered very active at the moment other eruptions in other areas in the world are giving scientists clues about what to expect from Mount Rainier.

Location Map

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