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Glaciers of Mount Rainier
Rocks of Mount Rainier


The volcanic rocks of Mount Rainier include both lavas and pyroclastics. The breccias, agglomerates, and tuffs, although of striking appearance, are, perhaps, less important elements in the construction of the composite cone.

The lavas vary much in color and texture, but these megascopic differences are referable rather to the degree of crystallization of the magma than to its chemical character. The variations in the chemical composition of the lavas expresses itself in mineralogical differences, and thus four rock types are distinguished—hypersthene-andesite, pyroxene-andesite, augite-andesite, and basalt. The distribution of these types indicates a radial arrangement of lava streams, and hypersthene-andesite is the more abundant variety of lava.

Granite is exposed on the slopes of Rainier where erosion has cut away the overlying lava, and it is plain that the volcanic cone rests upon ash elevated platform of older rock, approximately 8,000 feet above sea level.

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Last Updated: 28-Mar-2006