Crater Lake Revealed
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.
Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
Geologic Investigations Series
U.S. Geological Survey
Ramsey, David W.; Dartnell, Peter; Bacon, Charles R.; Robinson, Joel E.; Gardner, James V., 2001, Crater Lake revealed: U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigations Series Map I-2790, 1 plate, http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/2790/.