Mount Baker Volcano Report
History of Mount Baker dates back to the ice age. The Mount Baker as we see today was formed due to the lava flows from the summit vent which erupted some 15,000 to 30,000 years ago (Scott, Hildreth and Gardner, pars. 5-6 ). It was however in 1790 that the Mount Baker was first spotted by a Spanish expedition. One year later, a renowned British explorer George Vancouver came to survey the northwest coast of America. In 1792, this group reached Pacific Northwest coast and anchored in Dungeness Bay. Third Lieutenant Joseph Baker was the first person to document the existence of this mountain (US Geological Survey-1, par 3). By the mid of nineteenth century, Mount Baker had been explored by many expeditors.
Mount Baker is located about 50 kilometers east of Bellingham, Washington. It is part of a coastal range commonly known as North Cascades which extends through Washington, Oregon and northern California. It can be best viewed from the Glacier Creek Road off Highway 542. The Dead Horse Road 3907 is located on the northern side of the Baker. The Forest Service Road 372 runs along its southern side.
Mount Baker is 3285 meters (10778 ft) tall mountain and its foundations are based on non-volcanic rocks. Top of the mountain remains covered with snow throughout the year. Mount Baker is one of the most glaciated mountains of the Cascade volcanoes. Its upper flanks are exposed and its lower flanks are steep and vegetated. The present cone of the mountain was formed less than 30,000 years ago. In the last about 10,000 years, the area around the mountain remained ice-free yet the mountain itself remains heavily covered with snow (US Geological Survey-2, pars. 4-5).
Type of Volcano
Mount Baker is a large stratovolcano. A stratvolcano is basically a tall, and a conical mountain. Its surface is composed of hardened lava and volcanic ash. Stratvolcanos have steep sides and wide base. Stratvolcanos usually exceed the heights of 2500 m (“stratovolcano”, par 1), and the Mount Baker is 3285 m tall.
Eruption History and Behavior
Volcanic activity in Mount Baker started almost a million years ago (US Geological Survey-3, para 1). The ice-age however eroded most of its old lava and tephra deposits. In the post ice-age era, an eruption took place some 6000 years ago. There had been several explosions during the mid 19th century. In the recent times, lahars (mud slides) were created due to weakening of bedrocks in 1950-70s (Scott, Hildreth and Gardner, pars. 5-6 ). From 1975 onwards, thermal activity has continuously been noted at Mount Baker.
Mount Baker is an active volcano. There is a continuous thermal activity indicated by steaming fumaroles at its flanks and craters. The geologists however strongly believe that there are no chances of lava eruption from the Mount Baker. The only hazard that still exists is the debris flows (US Geological Survey, pars. 21-29). The Mount Baker has a long history of lahars. At present, lahars are considered to be the matter of concern which may pose threat in the future as well (Scott, Hildreth and Gardner, par 3).
Scott Kevin M. Hildreth Wes and Gardner Cynthia A. “Mount Baker—Living with an Active Volcano.” U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 059-00, Online Version 1.0. May 24, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2006 from http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs059-00/
“Stratovolcano.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. Answers.com April 14, 2006. http://www.answers.com/topic/stratovolcano
U.S. Geological Survey-1. Description : Mount Baker Volcano, Washington. December 5, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2006 from http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Baker/description_baker.html
U.S. Geological Survey-2. Report on Potential Volcanic Hazards from Future Activity of Mount Baker, Washington. Denver. 1995.
U.S. Geological Survey-3. Mount Baker, Washington: Brief Eruption History. March 27, 2002. Retrieved April 13, 2006 from http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Baker/EruptiveHistory/baker_brief_eruptive_history.html