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Rainier

Photo of this volcano
  • United States
  • Canada and Western USA
  • Stratovolcano
  • 1450 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 46.853°N
  • 121.76°W

  • 4392 m
    14409 ft

  • 321030
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: June 1969 (CSLP 53-69)

Increased seismicity since September 1968

Card 0619 (27 June 1969) Increased seismicity since September 1968

"Local activity has been increasing each month for the last three months. We have been averaging about 1-3 'Mt. Ranier Events' per 5-day period with an increase to about five per 5-day period last September 1968. This April, the events increased to approximately five per 5-day period. In May, it increased to about six per 5-day period and as of 15 June the increase is to approximately 12 per 5-day period."

Information Contacts: N. Rasmussen, Seismology Station, University of Washington.

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

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.

06/1969 (CSLP 53-69) Increased seismicity since September 1968




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


June 1969 (CSLP 53-69)

Increased seismicity since September 1968

Card 0619 (27 June 1969) Increased seismicity since September 1968

"Local activity has been increasing each month for the last three months. We have been averaging about 1-3 'Mt. Ranier Events' per 5-day period with an increase to about five per 5-day period last September 1968. This April, the events increased to approximately five per 5-day period. In May, it increased to about six per 5-day period and as of 15 June the increase is to approximately 12 per 5-day period."

Information Contacts: N. Rasmussen, Seismology Station, 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 28 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1894 Nov 21 (?) ] [ 1894 Dec 24 (?) ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1882 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1879 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1870 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1858 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1854 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1843 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1825 (?) ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    
1450 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0910 ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0440 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layers TC1 and TC2
0150 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Tephra layer SL8
0250 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer C
0400 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology
0500 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Tephra layer SL5
0610 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layers SL3 and SL4
0650 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Tephra layer SL2
0700 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Tephra layer SL1
2550 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Tephra layer B
2750 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 2 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Tephra layer H
3650 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layers S, F
3850 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
4850 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 2 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer N
5050 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer D
5350 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer L
5550 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 2 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer A
7800 BCE ± 300 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
8050 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer R
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Rainier.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Rainier.

Photo Gallery

Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range, towers above the city of Tacoma and forms a prominent landmark seen from much of central Washington. Periodic collapse of the volcano during the past ten thousand years has produced debris avalanches and lahars that have reached the Puget Sound at the present locations of the cities of Tacoma and Seattle.

Photo by Lyn Topinka (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
A volcanologist from the U.S. Geological Survey observes the glaciated NW flank of Mount Rainier during a field survey to conduct monitoring measurements on Ptarmigan Ridge. The North Mowich Glacier in the center of the photo descended to about 1,500 m elevation when this photo was taken in 1983.

Photo by Lyn Topinka, 1983 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Stratovolcanoes, also referred to as composite volcanoes, are constructed of sequential layers of resistant lava flows and fragmented rock produced by explosive eruptions. An aerial view of the glacially dissected SW flank of Mount Rainier shows the layered interior of a stratovolcano.

Photo by Dan Dzurisin, 1982 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Mount Rainier towers above the town of Orting located 40 km NW in this 1995 photo. The plain underlying the town is composed of the Electron Mudflow, which formed the flat valley floor about 500 years ago. The mudflow, which originated from partial collapse of part of the western flank of Rainier, was about 30 m deep when it exited valleys at the mountain front and flowed onto the Puget Lowland.

Photo by Dave Wieprecht, 1995 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Two overlapping craters at the summit of Mount Rainier are viewed here from the NE in 1995. They are both about 400 m across and represent more recent activity after the collapse 5,600 years ago. Thermal activity formed a series of fumaroles and ice caves within the icecap filling the summit craters.

Photo by Dave Wieprecht, 1995 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
An aerial view from near the eastern margin of Mount Rainier National Park shows the volcano rising above glacially eroded terrain of the Ohanapecosh formation, composed of Tertiary volcanic rocks. The smooth, glaciated upper NE flank in this 1992 photo is the location of the post-collapse cone constructed within the failure scarp left by the Osceola debris avalanche and lahar about 5,600 years ago.

Photo by Dave Wieprecht, 1992 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
The south flank of Rainier is seen here from the Tatoosh Range, with the Nisqually Glacier below the snow line in this 1980 photo. Meadows and forests of the Paradise area lie immediately below and to the right of the glacier. This is one of 25 named glaciers on Rainier, with the snow, ice, loose rock, and hydrothermal alteration posing a risk of lahars and debris avalanches for surrounding areas.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1980 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Rainier rises above Yakima Park on the north side of the volcano in this 1972 photo. Emmons Glacier descends to the left from the summit within a broad valley alongside Little Tahoma Peak (far left). The valley formed when part of Mount Rainier collapsed during an eruption episode about 5,600 years ago, producing the Osceola mudflow that reached the Puget Sound area.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1972 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
A large lava flow forms Burroughs Mountain on the NE flank of Mount Rainier. The 3.4 km3 flow is up to 350 m thick and is 11 km in length. The flow erupted about 500,000 years ago at the onset of an initial growth period of modern Mount Rainier and overlies block-and-ash flow deposits. The flow is perched on a ridge top and has ice-contact features, indicative of its emplacement against the margins of a thick Pleistocene glacier.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1982 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The trees in the foreground along Kautz Creek were killed by a debris flow from the SW flank of Mount Rainier in 1947, which covered a road with 8.5 m of mud and debris. Relatively small debris flows occur relatively frequently, with deposits of a half dozen or more debris flow deposits exposed in the Kautz Creek valley walls.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1980 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Housing development on a mudflow deposit that originated from Mount Rainier, partially obscured by clouds in the center background. The tree stump in the foreground was buried by the Electron mudflow about 500 years ago, that began as an avalanche of hydrothermally altered rock on Rainier's W flank.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Two overlapping craters are at the summit of Mount Rainier. Continued high heat flux has produced fumaroles that have formed ice tunnels in the 100-m-deep icecap filling the eastern summit crater, shown in this 1958 photo. Ice caves are also present in the smaller western crater, which contains a small crater lake beneath the ice.

Photo by Richard Fiske, 1958 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Rainier rises beyond Tipsoo Lake, near Chinook Pass at the eastern end of Mount Rainier National Park. The snow-free peaks of the Cowlitz Chimneys below Rainier are composed of volcanic rocks of the Oligocene Ohanapecosh Formation which underlies the volcano.

Photo by Richard Fiske, 1959 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Tahoma Glacier flows from the summit icecap of Mount Rainier between Liberty Cap (left) and Point Success (right) in this aerial view from the SW in 1969. The current summit was constructed within a scarp left by the collapse of the summit about 5,600 years ago. Slope failure of the summit or upper flanks of the hydrothermally altered volcano has occurred several times during the Holocene, producing massive debris avalanches and mudflows that swept into the Puget lowlands.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1969 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Stratovolcanoes are composed of accumulated layers of lava flows from effusive eruptions and fragmented rock from explosive eruptions. Glacier-clad Mount Rainier, seen here from the NW, is located in the northern Cascade Range. Most eruptions originate from a central conduit, which produces the common conical profile of stratovolcanoes, but flank eruptions also occur. Both isolated stratovolcanoes like Mount Rainier and compound volcanoes formed by overlapping cones are common.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1983 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Mount Rainier is located east of the Puget Sound region, seen here from High Knob to the SW in 1981. Large Holocene mudflows from this heavily glaciated volcano have reached as far as the Puget Sound lowlands. Several postglacial tephras have erupted from Rainier, with tree-ring dating placing the last recognizable tephra deposit during the 19th century. Extensive hydrothermal alteration of the upper portion of the volcano has contributed to its structural weakness.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1981 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
This view of Mount Rainier from the NW shows neighboring Mount Adams to the right in 1985. The steep Willis Wall, named after the 19th-century geologist Bailey Willis, is to the left and exposes relatively young lava flows.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1985 (Smithsonian Institution)
See title for photo information.
Mount Adams (lower right) and Mount Rainier are the two southernmost of a N-S-trending chain of large stratovolcanoes in the Cascade Range of Washington state. Adams Glacier can be seen descending to the SE from the summit icecap of Mount Adams in this aerial view from the south. The 1,250 km2 Mount Adams volcanic field contains numerous flank cones and lava flows, several of which erupted during the Holocene. Mount Rainier, Washington's highest peak, has been less active during the Holocene, but erupted during the 19th century.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1980 (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: (1) WA, SW: Geol Map of
Publisher: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources
Country: United States
Year: 1987
Series: Geologic Map
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of (1) WA, SW: Geol Map of

Title: WA-SW, State of
Publisher: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources
Country: United States
Year: 1987
Series: Topo Map
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of WA-SW, State of

Title: Mt Adams, Geol Map of
Publisher: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources
Country: United States
Year: 1987
Series: OFR
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Mt Adams, Geol Map of

Title: Hood River, Geol Map of
Publisher: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources
Country: United States
Year: 1987
Series: OFR
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Hood River, Geol Map of

Title: Goldendale
Publisher: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources
Country: United States
Year: 1987
Series: OFR
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Goldendale

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: Hood River
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1982
Series: 1:100 Scale Metric
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Hood River

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: Mt Adams
Publisher: USGS w/ BLM & US Forest Service
Country: United States
Year: 1978
Series: 1:100 Scale Metric
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Mt Adams

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: Geol Map of OR W of 121st Meridian
Publisher: US Geological Survey
Country: United States
Year: 1961
Series: MI
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Geol Map of OR W of 121st Meridian

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 41 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 87859-1 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-10 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-11 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-12 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-13 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-14 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-15 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-16 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-17 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-18 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-19 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-2 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-20 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-21 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-22 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-23 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-24 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-25 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-26 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-27 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-28 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-29 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-3 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-30 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-31 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-32 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-33 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-34 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-35 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-36 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-37 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-38 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-39 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-4 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-40 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-41 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-5 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-6 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-7 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-8 Volcanic Rock -- --
NMNH 87859-9 Volcanic Rock -- --
External Sites