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Sand Mountain Volcanic Field

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The Sand Mountain volcanic field consists of a group of 23 basaltic and basaltic-andesite cinder cones and lava flows at the western margin of the High Cascades in the upper McKenzie River watershed.

Quick Facts

Location: Oregon

Latitude: 44.38° N

Longitude: 121.93° W

Elevation: 1,664 (m) 5,459 (f)

Volcano type: Cinder cones

Composition: Basalt, Basaltic Andesite

Most recent eruption: About 2,000 years ago

Threat Potential: Low/Very Low*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System


The field covers 75 km2 (30 mi2) fed from two aligned groups of 42 distinct vents that trend north-northwest and north-northeast and intersect near the largest cinder cone, Sand Mountain (250 m or 820 ft high). The vent alignments suggest that a complex system of dikes exists beneath the chain. A series of lava flows originating from vents along the chain were erupted primarily from about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. They traveled chiefly to the west, blocking local drainages and forming several small lakes. The Lost Lake cinder cone group at the north-northeast end of the chain was active about 2,000 years ago. The extensive young, highly fractured lava flows from Sand Mountain, and others from Belknap Crater, greatly disrupted the McKenzie River and create a landscape of lava-filled canyons, lakes, disappearing streams, and numerous springs.


2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment

When erupting, all volcanoes pose a degree of risk to people and infrastructure, however, the risks are not equivalent from one volcano to another because of differences in eruptive style and geographic location. Assessing the relative threats posed by U.S. volcanoes identifies which volcanoes warrant the greatest risk-mitigation efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners. This update

John W. Ewert, Angela K. Diefenbach, David W. Ramsey