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Baker

Photo of this volcano
  • United States
  • Canada and Western USA
  • Stratovolcano(es)
  • 1880 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 48.777°N
  • 121.813°W

  • 3285 m
    10778 ft

  • 321010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: August 1975 (CSLP 26-75)

Continued high fumarolic activity; clusters of hundred of new fumaroles

Card 2244 (07 August 1975) Continued high fumarolic activity; clusters of hundred of new fumaroles

All available evidence shows that the March increase in fumarolic activity at Mount Baker has not diminished and in some aspects has continued to increase. Since the initial ground investigation on 28 March, various university and federal scientists have installed instrumentation to begin intensive volcano monitoring.

Clusters of hundreds of new fumaroles have at least doubled the area of snow-free ground and have melted large ice pits in the normally glacier-filled Sherman Crater. Two of the new ice pits contain shallow lakes, one of which was 34°C on 11 June. Acid water from the lakes and from other snowmelt in the crater drains into the Boulder Creek valley on the east side of the volcano where water quality is presently monitored.

As ice cover in the crater melts, new clusters of fumaroles continue to appear. One main fumarole which was about 1 m in diameter in March has developed into a 1 x 5 m fissure. Accessible fumaroles have had temperatures at boiling, 90-91°C; but the main fumarole remains inaccessible. Continual ash emission from this as well as some of the other fumaroles has coated snow in the Sherman Crater area with a gray blanket at least 1 cm thick. Several analyses of the ash show it to be composed largely of secondary minerals, old rock fragments, and pyrite-covered sulfur droplets. A very small fraction of vesicular glass in some ash samples is currently thought to be reworked older material.

Continuously-telemetered seismic data from a station on the Sherman Crater rim and from a station at a lower elevation show intermittent variations in high-frequency background noise and a few local transient seismic events. No strong seismic trend has yet been detected. Furthermore, a hydrogen and temperature sensor, several tilt and gravity stations, and time-lapse cameras have not been in operation long enough to show definite trends. Additional monitoring includes aerial photographic, thermographic, and sulfur surveys.

The other large thermal area on Mount Baker, the Dorr fumarole field on the N side of the cone, has not yet shown significant changes in activity compared to previous years.

Information Contacts: David Frank, Quaternary Research Center, University of Washington; Stephen D. Malone, University of Washington.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Baker.

Bulletin Reports - Index

Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

03/1975 (CSLP 26-75) Increased fumarolic activity and new fumaroles

07/1975 (CSLP 26-75) New crater lake observed; significant melting

08/1975 (CSLP 26-75) Continued high fumarolic activity; clusters of hundred of new fumaroles




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


March 1975 (CSLP 26-75)

Increased fumarolic activity and new fumaroles

Card 2132 (28 March 1975) Increased fumarolic activity and new fumaroles

Reports were received beginning on the evening of 10 March 1975, of larger than normal amounts of vapor from Sherman Crater, which is known to have contained a fumarole field since the latter 1800's. Aerial photographs taken 11 March show two new clusters of fumaroles which perforate through snow and ice in Sherman Crater. Semi-circular crevasses in the crater were apparent and seemed to be related to ice subsidence.

A thin swath of gray debris, partly covered by new snow, extended 100-300 m outside the E, S, and W part of the crater rim. A small lake within one of the ice perforations was observed by air on 11 and 13 March. On 20 March, ground observers examined Boulder Creek, down valley from the drainage outlet of the Sherman Crater rim and reported no flooding but highly acidic (pH = 3.7) and sulfur-smelling water. Large amounts of steam were seen when the mountain again was visible on 24 March.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists is mobilizing to determine the significance of the new thermal activity.

Information Contacts: David Frank, University of Washington; Mark F. Miller, USGS.


July 1975 (CSLP 26-75)

New crater lake observed; significant melting

Card 2219 (14 July 1975) Aerial observations; new crater lake

A photo flight under dull, high overcast was made between 1500 and 1530 over Mt. Baker on 3 July 1975. Vertical photos with a K-17, 6" lens of Sherman Crater, Dorr Fumarole Field and later, McAllister, Klawatti, Boston, and South Cascade glaciers, plus numerous 35 mm oblique color views were taken.

Steam activity at the fumarole sites including Dorr Fumraole Field was the lowest we have observed in recent months, possibly due to atmospheric conditions. This allowed a close examination of many openings, particularly the E breach area of the crater, and here a new crater lake was observed in a large ice cavern located NE of the central pit about midway between the E breach and the N pit. The lake color was a muddy brown, in contrast to the pale green of the central lake. It appeared to be at least 20 m across, and of undetermined length. Most of the ice bridge covering the new lake appeared to be quite thick and ice encroaching from the N slope may delay its collapse for weeks or even months.

No new large openings were observed in the E breach area where the snow was completely covered with a heavy, continuous layer of brown/gray mud. The ice was melting away from the rocks on either side exposing openings which appeared to connect with the subglacial opening following the outlet stream, possibly due to thermal heat in the rocks. A crevasse near the head of Boulder Glacier, which probably spans the subglacial outlet stream from the crater, appeared to open into an extensive cavern below. No steam was observed from this potentially large opening.

Card 2227 (21 July 1975) Rapid melting of ice and snow

A photo flight with clear skies was made between 1530 and 1600 over Mt. Baker on 9 July 1975. The temperature at 4,000 m was +10°C and extremely rapid snow and ice melt was in progress; Glacier Creek in particular was a brown, raging flood. The effects of snow melt were very noticeable on the upper part of the mountain, seasonal snow having disappeared from most rock areas and last year's snow surface being exposed on areas subject to wind scour. Other evidence of very thin snow on the upper mountain was the reappearance of traces of the rim of the true Summit Crater in the Roman Wall vicinity, a feature which has been snow-covered when photographed later than in the 1940's.

In the six days since observing the mountain, changes in the Sherman Crater area were notable. Fragments of ice falling into the central pit covered most of the bottom and these either filled most of the lake or the lake had largely drained. The new lake observed 3 July was completely obscured by collapse of the entrance of the ice cavern in which it was located. No doubt due in part to the very rapid surface melting in progress, rocks within the crater recently exposed by sliding of the ice off the slopes were much more visible.

The most noteworthy change outside the crater was the collapse of the ice covering a cavity noted in a crevasse near the head of Boulder Glacier observed on 3 July. More important, although visible steam activity within the crater was low as on 3 July and the Dorr Fumarole Field was notable by a nearly complete absence of visible steam, fog-like vapor was observed in the highest crevasse on Boulder Glacier near the area of ice collapse. These together strongly suggest that a fumarole has developed in this critical area situated immediately below Sherman Peak and Lahar Lookout.

Information Contacts:
Card 2219 (14 July 1975) Austin Post, USGS.
Card 2227 (21 July 1975) Austin Post, USGS.


August 1975 (CSLP 26-75)

Continued high fumarolic activity; clusters of hundred of new fumaroles

Card 2244 (07 August 1975) Continued high fumarolic activity; clusters of hundred of new fumaroles

All available evidence shows that the March increase in fumarolic activity at Mount Baker has not diminished and in some aspects has continued to increase. Since the initial ground investigation on 28 March, various university and federal scientists have installed instrumentation to begin intensive volcano monitoring.

Clusters of hundreds of new fumaroles have at least doubled the area of snow-free ground and have melted large ice pits in the normally glacier-filled Sherman Crater. Two of the new ice pits contain shallow lakes, one of which was 34°C on 11 June. Acid water from the lakes and from other snowmelt in the crater drains into the Boulder Creek valley on the east side of the volcano where water quality is presently monitored.

As ice cover in the crater melts, new clusters of fumaroles continue to appear. One main fumarole which was about 1 m in diameter in March has developed into a 1 x 5 m fissure. Accessible fumaroles have had temperatures at boiling, 90-91°C; but the main fumarole remains inaccessible. Continual ash emission from this as well as some of the other fumaroles has coated snow in the Sherman Crater area with a gray blanket at least 1 cm thick. Several analyses of the ash show it to be composed largely of secondary minerals, old rock fragments, and pyrite-covered sulfur droplets. A very small fraction of vesicular glass in some ash samples is currently thought to be reworked older material.

Continuously-telemetered seismic data from a station on the Sherman Crater rim and from a station at a lower elevation show intermittent variations in high-frequency background noise and a few local transient seismic events. No strong seismic trend has yet been detected. Furthermore, a hydrogen and temperature sensor, several tilt and gravity stations, and time-lapse cameras have not been in operation long enough to show definite trends. Additional monitoring includes aerial photographic, thermographic, and sulfur surveys.

The other large thermal area on Mount Baker, the Dorr fumarole field on the N side of the cone, has not yet shown significant changes in activity compared to previous years.

Information Contacts: David Frank, Quaternary Research Center, University of Washington; Stephen D. Malone, University of Washington.

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Eruptive History

There is data available for 20 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1884 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
1880 Sep 7 1880 Nov 27 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
1870 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
[ 1869 Jun ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
[ 1867 Mar ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
[ 1865 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
1863 Jul Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
[ 1860 Dec ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
1859 Nov 1860 Apr 26 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
1858 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
[ 1856 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
1854 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
1852 Dec 1 ± 30 days 1853 Jan (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
[ 1850 Mar ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Sherman Crater
[ 1846 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1843 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Sherman Crater
1820 (?) Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1792 Jun ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
4550 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Sherman Crater?
7850 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) South flank (Schreibers Meadow Cone)
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Baker.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Baker.

Photo Gallery

Mount Baker, seen here from the dairy farms of Whatcom County to the west, is a prominent landmark visible from much of NW Washington and SW British Columbia. Nineteenth-century eruptions were visible from as far away as Victoria Island across the Puget Sound.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1972 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Glaciated Mount Baker is seen here from Twin Lakes to the north. Sherman Crater, the source of historical eruptions from Mount Baker, is visible on the left side between the summit and the smaller Sherman Peak. The older eroded Black Buttes volcano forms the two peaks below and to the right of the summit.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1971 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Baker is seen here from the Glacier Creek valley on the NW side. Coleman Glacier is in the right-center of the photo with Coleman Saddle located between the summit and Colfax Peak on the right. The active Sherman Crater is on the opposite SE side of the summit.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1972 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The glaciated surface of Mount Baker is seen here from neighboring Mount Shuksan. The peak in the shadow consists of metamorphosed basaltic rocks of the Shuksan Greenschist. The area to the right is the recently discovered Pleistocene Kulshan Caldera, which preceded the construction of Mount Baker. The 4.5 x 8 km caldera is largely filled by up to 1 km of non-welded tuffs and is capped by lava flows.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1971 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
This view from the SE shows the extensive glacial cover on Mount Baker in 1972. Twelve glaciers cover the volcano with 114 km2 of ice, which is the largest glacial icecap of any Cascade volcano, including Mount Rainier. Part of Sherman Crater, the historically active vent, is lit by the sun just below the summit, to the right of Sherman Peak. The eroded Black Buttes volcano is in the background.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1972 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
This view from the SW shows the Deming Glacier below Lincoln (left) and Colfax Peaks, which are remnants of the Pleistocene Black Buttes volcano that once stood where Mount Baker is now. Lavas from Black Buttes, which was active from about 500,000 to 300,000 years ago, dip towards Mount Baker with its flat-topped summit (upper right). Easton Glacier is on the S flank.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1972 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The flat-topped ridge in the center of this photo is Table Mountain, seen here from Skyline Divide. Table Mountain is a stack of andesitic lava flows, each about 100 m thick, that erupted from vents along the northern side of the Pleistocene Kulshan caldera. The buried northern caldera rim lies near the left-hand margin of the lava flows. The spectacular glacier-clad slopes of Mt. Shuksan form the right horizon, and Icy Peak at the head of the North Fork Nooksack drainage lies beyond it on the left-center horizon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1979 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The glaciated Mount Baker is the northernmost of Washington's active volcanoes in the northern Cascade Range, seen here from the SE above Baker Lake. Historical eruptions have originated from Sherman Crater to the left of the summit. Minor phreatic explosions were observed during the 19th century by early settlers in the Puget Sound area as far away as Victoria, British Columbia.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1981 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The forested scoria cone in the left of the photo is Schreibers Meadow Cone on the SE flank of Mount Baker. It erupted about 9,800 years ago, producing a scoria deposit and a lava flow that traveled 12 km to the present location of Baker Lake. The ridge in the foreground is a glacial moraine from Mount Baker known as the "Railroad Grade."

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1981 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Photos taken from Lahar Lookout near the summit of Mount Baker in August 1974 (left) and August 1975 (right) show the result of a period of increased thermal emission from Mount Baker that began in 1975. The enhanced heat flux dramatically increased melting and crevassing in the Sherman Crater icepack; vigorous new fumaroles are visible at the lower left and upper right. Periodic steam emission produced steam plumes that rose several hundred meters above the crater.

Photos by U.S. Geological Survey.
See title for photo information.
The north flank of Mount Baker is seen from Skyline Divide with the two peaks of the Pleistocene Black Buttes on the right horizon. Chowder Ridge extends across the middle of the image in front of Black Buttes towards Mt. Hadley, the peak below the flat-topped Mount Baker summit. The ridge is named for its marine brachiopod fossils and contains numerous dikes, the feeders for a large early and mid-Pleistocene volcanic center that has been almost entirely eroded away by Pleistocene continental ice sheets.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1979 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Glaciated Mount Baker rises above the North Fork Nooksack River valley below the NW flank.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1973 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Baker in the northern Cascades rises 1,500 m above a dissected basement complex of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, exposed at Dock Butte in the foreground. On the left skyline is the glacially eroded core of the Pleistocene Black Buttes stratovolcano, a predecessor to Mount Baker. From left to right, the Deming, Easton, Squock, Talum, Boulder, and Park Glaciers drape the volcano's flanks.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1990 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The north flank of Mount Baker towers above Cockscomb Ridge, with the Roosevelt Glacier descending from the summit. The Dole Fumarole Field on the northern flank is located below a point around halfway down the left-hand horizon, near where the shadow line on the Mazama Glacier (center) takes a sharp bend. William Henry Dorr reported vapor emission at this location in 1884 and fumarolic activity continues today.

Photo by Bill Chadwick, 1981 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Two U.S. Geological Survey volcanologists (left center) take gas samples from a fumarole, one of many across the wall of Sherman Crater in 1981. Increased emissions had begun from Sherman Crater in 1975. The crater walls consist of brightly colored areas of hydrothermally altered rocks.

Photo by Bill Chadwick, 1981 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
A geologist examines a fumarole surrounded by sulfur mineralization at Sherman Crater in 1981. Greatly increased thermal emission beginning in 1975 melted glacial ice in Sherman Crater and created many new fumaroles. Plumes are occasionally visible from the Puget lowlands.

Photo by Bill Chadwick, 1981 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Colfax Peak (center) is an erosional remnant of Black Buttes volcano, a predecessor to Mount Baker that was active from about 500,000 to 300,000 years ago. Coleman Saddle (right center) divides the NE-dipping lavas of Black Buttes from Mount Baker, whose summit lies out of view to the upper right. Easton Glacier descends diagonally across the photo to the SW.

Photo by Bill Chadwick, 1981 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
The historically active crater of Mount Baker, seen here from the NE rim of the Pleistocene Kulshan Caldera, lies between the summit and Sherman Peak (left horizon). The snow-mantled slopes in the foreground are located within Kulshan Caldera, which remained undiscovered until the 1990s because associated pyroclastic flow and ashfall deposits outside the caldera had been removed by Pleistocene glaciers. Coleman Pinnacle (center) is a remnant of a post-caldera fissure-fed lava flow.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1974 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Baker forms a prominent landmark visible throughout much of the northern Puget Sound region. Its glaciated slopes rise above Bellingham Bay, as seen here from Mount Constitution on Orcas Island. Lummi Island, another of the San Juan Islands, forms the ridge extending across the center of the photo. The Twin Sisters massif, composed of olivine-rich ultramafic rocks derived from the Earth's mantle, is located immediately SW (right) of Mount Baker.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
GVP Map Holdings

The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Very small-scale maps (such as world maps) are not included. The maps database originated over 30 years ago, but was only recently updated and connected to our main database. We welcome users to tell us if they see incorrect information or other problems with the maps; please use the Contact GVP link at the bottom of the page to send us email.


Title: Eocene to Holocene Volc/ Related Rocks, Cascades
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1989
Series: OFR
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Eocene to Holocene Volc/ Related Rocks, Cascades

Title: Canada, United States
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: United States
Year: 1988
Series: ONC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Canada, United States

Title: Canada, United States
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: Canada, US- AK WA
Year: 1987
Series: ONC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Canada, United States

Title: British Columbia's Coast: The Canadian Inside Passage
Publisher: Alaska Geographic Society
Country: Canada
Year: 1986
Map Type: Geographic
Scale: 1:2,000,000
Map of British Columbia's Coast: The Canadian Inside Passage

Title: W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1984
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology (Volcano)
Scale: 1:2,500,000
Map of W US /Map of Dist, Comp, Age-Late CZ Volc Centers

Title: Dist, Thickness, Mass of Tephra from Volcanoes
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1983
Series: MFS
Map Type: Geology (Volcanic Hazard)
Scale: 1:2,500,000
Map of Dist, Thickness, Mass of Tephra from Volcanoes

Title: Distribution, Comp, & Age of L Cen Volcan, Cascade Range, NW US
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1983
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Distribution, Comp, & Age of L Cen Volcan, Cascade Range, NW US

Title: Map SHowing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Oregon and Washington
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1982
Series: Misc Investigations
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Map SHowing Distribution, Composition, and Age of Late Cenozoic Volcanic Centers in Oregon and Washington

Title: Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States
Publisher: ERDA and USGS
Country: United States
Year: 1977
Map Type: Cultural (Geothermal Resources)
Scale: 1:1,250,000
Map of Geothermal Energy Resources of the Western United States

Title: Concrete
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1962
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Concrete

Title: Geol Map of WA
Publisher: WA Dept of Conservation, Division Mines & Geol
Country: United States
Year: 1961
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Geol Map of WA
Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 2 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections, and may be availble for research (contact the Rock and Ore Collections Manager). Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description Lava Source Collection Date
NMNH 116134-1 Andesite -- --
NMNH 116134-2 Andesite -- --
External Sites