Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ring Around the (Crater) Lake

First of all, I haven't received my new power cable yet, but my brothers dug up one rated for 90 watts that fits the socket on my laptop, which is enough to run my computer on fairly simple tasks. I need 120 watts for full power, so I still need the new cable, especially as I like to perform fairly power-intensive tasks with my computer.

Recently my family took a trip up to Washington for a family reunion, and I got a lot of photos along the way. On the way up through Oregon we stopped at Crater Lake, where I was able to take enough photos (6 in this case) to assemble a panorama.

Crater Lake, Oregon. Wizard Island is visible on the left. Click on it for a larger version!
Crater Lake is really an amazing place. It's located in the caldera of an ancient volcano known as Mount Mazama that was probably around 12,000 feet high before it blew its top in a spectacular eruption a few thousand years ago that dropped its height by nearly a mile (the highest point on the rim now is 8,159 feet). The average lake surface level is at 6,178 feet above sea level, while the maximum depth of the lake has been measured at 1,949 feet, making it one of the deepest lakes in the world.

The eruption of Mount Mazama was a truly monumental event (the name comes from a Native American word that means “mountain goat”, although the name was given by a hiking club from Portland in 1896). According to estimates it released around 25 cubic miles of tephra (which is a geologist's word for “pretty much anything a volcano erupts that isn't lava”, basically ash, cinders, and rocks). For comparison, Mt. St. Helens released a mere 0.67 cubic miles of tephra during its eruption of 1980, and when Krakatau blew up in 1883 it released about 5 cubic miles of stuff. Twenty-five cubic miles is a lot of ash. According to the visitors' center it would be enough to blanket Oregon to a depth of 8 inches.

One cool thing about Mount Mazama's eruption is the fact that it occurred within living memory of the local Klamath tribes, who passed on oral history accounts of the eruption. That must have been a sight to see (and survive) indeed!

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