Mount Adams: Our most considerate volcano

Mount Adams towers over the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve, which is managed by DNR. Photo: DNR
Mount Adams towers over the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve, which is managed by DNR. Photo: DNR

With May being Washington’s Volcano Preparedness Month, DNR’s Ear to the Ground thought it a good time for you to get to know our active volcanic neighbors. We start this week with the sleepiest and alphabetically-antecedent of the Cascade volcano peaks, Mount Adams.

At 12,280 feet above sea level, Mount Adams is the second-tallest of Washington’s mountains, trailing only Mount Rainier. Perhaps that has something to do with its less active history. As Mounts St. Helens, Rainier and Hood have spewed over the past few thousand years, causing noise and ruckus for us in the lowlands, Mount Adams has been polite enough to remain relatively quiet.

While eruptions have been few, Mount Adams has produced more eruptive material in the past million years than every other Cascade stratovolcano except Mount Shasta in California. 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.

Landslides of weakened rock on Mount Adams’ steep upper flanks can spawn dangerous lahars – which are watery flows of volcanic rocks and mud that surge downstream like rapidly flowing concrete.

march 26-adamsw 11x17The potential impact of hazards from a Mount Adams event has been mapped by the USGS.

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.

Do you have a favorite Mount Adams spot? Tell us about it on DNR’s Facebook page.

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