Geology of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon, USA
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Volcanic geology is the dominant theme at Newberry National Volcanic Monument in central Oregon. Established almost 25 years ago, the NNVM (like the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument) is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The monument encompasses some 90 square miles in Deschutes National Forest of the 1200-sq-mi Newberry Volcano, including the 4x5 mi scenic central caldera and the volcano's youngest lava flow, the 1300-yr-old Big Obsidian Flow. The seismically-monitored Newberry Volcano is considered by the USGS to be a very high threat volcano, with the potential to impact adjacent populations in Bend, Sunriver, and LaPine and damage infrastructure including highways, railroads, and power lines. Unspectacular from a distance, the broad shield shape of Newberry Volcano hides the abundance and youthfulness of volcanic activity. Included in NNVM are 7-ka basalt to andesite lavas of the Northwest Rift Zone (NWRZ) that erupted from spatter and cinder cones over a N-S distance of 20 miles and temporarily blocked the flow of the adjacent Deschutes River. These well-exposed lavas are post-Mazama in age, having erupted after a blanket of ash and pumice was deposited on the volcano when Mt. Mazama erupted at 7.7 ka to form Crater Lake. Images from lidar data obtained in 2011 clearly display the post-Mazama lavas, which not only are unmantled by the tephra, but also lack the thick forest that has grown in the tephra further obscuring many of the youthful volcanic features across this massive rear-arc Cascades volcano. NNVM features interpretive trails at the Big Obsidian Flow in the caldera and at Lava Cast Forest and Lava Butte flow along the NWRZ. Also within the monument are two of the premier drivable viewpoints in Oregon, on Lava Butte and at the 7984-ft top of Paulina Peak on the rim of the caldera. On a clear day, views from Paulina Peak encompass much of the High Cascades, extending from Mt. Shasta in California to Mt. Adams in Washington.