THE VOLCANO'S FUTURE?
An active volcano changes continually. Repeated eruptions build the cone by piling one lava flow on top of others, or on top of other volcanic formations. Simultaneously, the combined processes of erosion wear the volcano down. The relative importance of the two processes one building, the other destroying is reflected in the volcano's shape. The scarred and deeply gouged sides of Rainier's cone show that erosion has been dominant here for a longtime. Is Mount Rainier now doomed to continued piecemeal destruction until the lofty cone is reduced to a featureless mound? Will future eruptions of lava restore some of the volcano's bulk? Or will the volcano erupt violently some day, and then collapse as did Mount Mazama to form the deep basin of Crater Lake? The answers may not be known for centuries or they may appear tomorrow.
Last Updated: 01-Mar-2005