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The hidden crater of Mount Baker revealed

The old crater rim, previously buried under snow and ice, was exposed this summer at Mt. Baker. Meanwhile, fumaroles at the summit of Mt. Baker are active as ever – see some videos of the activity!

Happy Earth Science Week!

Mt. Baker in Washington, USA.

The Mount Baker Volcano Research Center (MBVCC) run out of Western Washington University has posted a series of new pictures and movies of the summit region of Mt. Baker (taken from 2006 to 2009). They also sent out links to some great images of the recently-exposed edge of the old crater rim on Mt. Baker. The crater had been buried by the ice/snow cap on the volcano until this year, but John Scurlock was able to capture a photo of the rim of the crater from an airplane this summer. The grey layer is ash/tephra likely from activity at the summit – and likely it is relatively recent activity to be preserved – how recent is anybody’s guess.

There are also a number of videos of the fumarolic activity near the summit of Mt. Baker. These were shot during a gas sampling expedition in 2006/07. David Tucker summarizes the fumarolic activity on Baker as:

The crater has dozens, if not hundreds, of gas vents, mostly a few centimeters across, that emit water vapor, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and other gases. Gas temperature is right around boiling at 9700 feet elevation- about 91 degrees C.

There is a lot of hydrothermal fluids and gases percolating through the upper reaches of the volcano. This means that a heat source must exist at relatively shallow depths (a few kilometers) underneath the summit – a sign that Baker should not be taken lightly in terms of volcanic monitoring.

With the 2009 Geological Society of America meeting in Portland, OR around the corner, there are a lot of new abstracts for presentations on Mt. Baker on the website as well. You can check some of them out here and they include research on the nature of Baker magmas, the shape of Sherman Crater under the ice and the crust underneath the volcano.


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