Craters of the Moon National Monument
I have driven across the flat and dry volcanic Snake River Plain in southern Idaho several times and always regretted never visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is a little out of the way from the major interstate highways of the USA but then again, so are most of the interesting volcanic features I have visited before. Last summer I got my chance and it was well worth it.
Craters of the Moon National Monument consists of 400 square miles of basalt lava fields originating from a "Great Rift". Eruptions along this rift come from a series of fissures that generate spatter cones and effusive lava flows. There are also a series of monogenic cinder cones some of which, like Inferno Cone (see picture below) can be climbed by the public. The most recent erruption was approximately 2100 years ago.
I have visited Yellowstone at least five times and keep being drawn back. Yellowstone is a fascinating to me not only because of its seemingly endless local volcanic and hydrothermal features but because of the fact that the hotspot which created them, is also responsible for many of the large geologic formations throughout the pacific northwest. These include the flood basalts of Snake River Plain and even the Columbia River Basalt Group, one of the largest trap formations in the world.
|Columbia River Flood Basalts|
|Ubiquitous "Old Faithful" geyser|
|Upper Geyser Basin Path|
|Grand Prismatic Spring|
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
|Fountain Paint Pots boiling mud pond|
|Roaring Mountain Fumarole Field|
|Overlapping columnar lava flows at Watch Tower Falls|
Aside from the geology, I also love visiting Yellowstone for it's rustic charm, abundant wildlife, and beautiful mountain vistas. Yellowstone is just too large to see everything in one trip.
Newberry Caldera/Volcano and Medicine Lake Volcano
Although these two volcanoes reside in two different states, they are both situated just east of the Cascade Range and volcanic arc, they are both essentially shield volcanoes with extensive associated monogenic cindercone fields, they are both atypical shield volcanoes in that they have produced both basalt flows at lower elevations and rhyolite flows at higher elevations, and they both have lakes within their calderas. It is likely that both have multiple small magma chambers rather than just one. Both of these volcanoes seem to be on an area of crustal extension with eruptive vents running along fault lines moving from the oldest in the southeast to the youngest in the northwest. The last eruption at Newberry was approximately 1400 years ago and the last eruption at Medicine Lake was approximately 900 years ago.
I had the pleasure of camping inside Newberry Caldera next to East Lake. Newberry is in central Oregon. The caldera itself is filled with obsidian shards from various rhyolite flows and this can make walking in unsuitable footwear treacherous. There are several hot springs along the sides of both lakes in Newberry Caldera.
|Central Pumice Cone across East Lake|
|Big Obsidian Flow|
|Medicine Lake Volcano on the left and Mt Shasta distant right|
|Devil's Homestead Lava Flow|
|Lava tube entrance with Schonchin Butte cinder cone behind|
Stay tuned for more volcano goodness as I have visited many others and I intend to see many more.