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Morphology, volcanism, and mass wasting in Crater Lake, Oregon

January 1, 2002

Crater Lake was surveyed nearly to its shoreline by high-resolution multibeam echo sounding in order to define its geologic history and provide an accurate base map for research and monitoring surveys. The bathymetry and acoustic backscatter reveal the character of landforms and lead to a chronology for the concurrent filling of the lake and volcanism within the ca. 7700 calibrated yr B.P. caldera. The andesitic Wizard Island and central-plattform volcanoes are composed of sequences of lava deltas that record former lake levels and demonstrate simultaneous activity at the two vents. Wizard Island eruptions ceased when the lake was ~80 m lower than at present. Lava streams from prominent channels on the surface of the central platform descended to feed extensive subaqueous flow fields on the caldera floor. The Wizard Island and central-platform volcanoes, andesitic Merriam Cone, and a newly discovered probable lava flow on the eastern floor of the lake apparently date from within a few hundred years of caldera collapse, whereas a small rhydacite dome was emplaced on the flank of Wizard Island at ca. 4800 cal. yr B.P. Bedrock outcrops on the submerged caldera walls are shown in detail and, in some cases, can be correlated with exposed geologic units of Mount Mazama. Fragmental debris making up the walls elsewhere consists of narrow talus cones forming a dendritic pattern that leads to fewer, wider ridges downslope. Hummocky topography and scattered blocks up to ~280 m long below many of the embayments in the caldera wall mark debris-avalanche deposits that probably formed in single events and commonly are affected by secondary failures. The flat-floored, deep basins contain relatively fine-grained sediment transported from the debris aprons by sheet-flow turbidity currents. Crater Lake apparently filled rapidly (ca. 400-750 yr) until reaching a permeable layer above glaciated lava identified by the new survey in the northeast caldera wall at ~1845 m elevation. Thereafter, a gradual, climatically modulated rise in lake level to the present 1883 m produced a series of beaches culminating in a modern wave-cut platform, commonly ~40 m wide, where suitable material is present. The new survey reveals landforms that result from intermediate-composition volcanism in rising water, delineates mass wasting and sediment transport into a restricted basin, and yields a more accurate postcaldera history leading to improved assessment of volcanic hazards.

Publication Year 2002
Title Morphology, volcanism, and mass wasting in Crater Lake, Oregon
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(2002)114<0675:MVAMWI>2.0.CO;2
Authors C. R. Bacon, J.V. Gardner, L. A. Mayer, M. W. Buktenica, P. Dartnell, D.W. Ramsey, J.E. Robinson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geological Society of America Bulletin
Index ID 70025084
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center