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Crater Lake revealed

October 1, 2003

Around 500,000 people each year visit Crater Lake National Park in the Cascade Range of southern Oregon. Volcanic peaks, evergreen forests, and Crater Lake’s incredibly blue water are the park’s main attractions. Crater Lake partially fills the caldera that formed approximately 7,700 years ago by the eruption and subsequent collapse of a 12,000-foot volcano called Mount Mazama. The caldera-forming or climactic eruption of Mount Mazama drastically changed the landscape all around the volcano and spread a blanket of volcanic ash at least as far away as southern Canada.

Prior to the climactic event, Mount Mazama had a 400,000 year history of cone building activity like that of other Cascade volcanoes such as Mount Shasta. Since the climactic eruption, there have been several less violent, smaller postcaldera eruptions within the caldera itself. However, relatively little was known about the specifics of these eruptions because their products were obscured beneath Crater Lake’s surface. As the Crater Lake region is still potentially volcanically active, understanding past eruptive events is important to understanding future eruptions, which could threaten facilities and people at Crater Lake National Park and the major transportation corridor east of the Cascades.

Recently, the lake bottom was mapped with a high-resolution multibeam echo sounder. The new bathymetric survey provides a 2m/pixel view of the lake floor from its deepest basins virtually to the shoreline. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications, the bathymetry data can be visualized and analyzed to shed light on the geology, geomorphology, and geologic history of Crater Lake.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2003
Title Crater Lake revealed
DOI 10.3133/i2790
Authors David W. Ramsey, Peter Dartnell, Charles R. Bacon, Joel E. Robinson, James V. Gardner
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title IMAP
Series Number 2790
Index ID i2790
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program; Volcano Science Center