Blue Lake Crater

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 44.411°N
  • 121.774°W

  • 1230 m
    4034 ft

  • 322030
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Blue Lake Crater.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Blue Lake Crater.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Blue Lake Crater.

Volcano Types

Fissure vent

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Basalt / Picro-Basalt


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

Blue Lake crater, one of the least known Holocene volcanoes of the Oregon Cascades, is a series of at least three overlapping explosion craters along a NE trend slightly east of the crest of the Cascade Range. Explosions through pre-existing bedrock about 1300 years ago deposited basaltic bombs and cinders and spread a tephra blanket to the east and SE during perhaps the youngest eruption in the Santiam and McKenzie Passes region. The eruption created an elongated, steep-walled crater with a low rim that rises about 50 m above adjacent topography. The crater is now filled by the 0.3 x 0.8 km wide Blue Lake, immediately west of the popular recreation area of glacial moraine dammed Suttle Lake. A chain of spatter cones 6 km to the SSW and about 4 km NE of Mount Washington, is aligned with Blue Lake crater and has ejecta that are petrographically similar to that from Blue Lake and may have been erupted at the same time.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
0680 ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)

The Global Volcanism Program has no synonyms or subfeatures listed for Blue Lake Crater.

Photo Gallery

Blue Lake Crater, 0.3 x 0.8 km wide, was formed about 1300 years ago by volcanic explosions through pre-existing volcanic bedrock. A least three overlapping craters were formed, with ejecta forming a crater rim only 50 meters above the pre-eruption surface.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1995 (Smithsonian Institution).
Blue Lake Crater in the foreground is one of three overlapping explosion craters located east of Santiam Pass. The craters formed about 1300 years ago by explosions through older volcanic bedrock, and a chain of spatter cones about 6 km SSW of Blue Lake may have been active during the same eruption. Despite its proximity to a major cross-Cascades highway, Blue Lake Crater is one of the least-known Holocene volcanoes of the Cascades. The snow-capped pinnacle of Pleistocene Mount Washington is visible in the background.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Sherrod D R, Taylor E M, Ferns M L, Scott W E, Conrey R M, Smith G A, 2004. Geologic map of the Bend 30- x 60-minute quadrangle, central Oregon. U S Geol Surv Map , I-2683, 1:100,000 scale and 48 p text.

Taylor E M, 1965. Recent volcanism between Three Fingered Jack and North Sister Oregon Cascade Range. Ore Bin, 27: 121-148.

Taylor E M, 1981. Roadlog for central High Cascade geology, Bend, Sisters, McKenzie Pass, and Santiam Pass, Oregon. U S Geol Surv Circ, 838: 59-83.

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Blue Lake Crater Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.