Mount Adams: Majestic giant has been quiet but still poses a threat

Mount Adams
Mount Adams as seen from Mount St. Helens in this aerial photo. Photo: USGS.

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State. As we approach this Sunday’s 34th anniversary of the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, DNR Ear to the Ground is featuring each of our state’s five active volcanoes this week. Today, the spotlight is on Mount Adams.

One of the largest volcanoes in the Cascade Range, Mount Adams has been less active during the past few thousand years than its neighbors (Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, and Hood). The most common type of eruptions over the long history of Mount Adams have been lava flows–streams of molten rock–which created a volcanic field that now covers about 500 square miles of the landscape in Skamania, Yakima, Klickitat, and Lewis counties and the Yakama Indian Reservation. Even if there is no eruption, landslides of weakened rock originating on the steep upper flanks of Mount Adams can spawn dangerous lahars, which are watery flows of volcanic rocks and mud that surge downstream like rapidly flowing concrete.

Here is the current alert status for Cascade Range volcanoes from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory.

DNR and its Division of Geology and Earth Resources help map, monitor and educate the public, governments and others about geologic hazards, including volcanoes, such as Mount Adams.

Have you been to Mount Adams lately? Join in the discussion on DNR’s Facebook page.