Mount Rainier at 4393 meters (14,410 feet) is the highest peak in the Cascade Range; a dormant volcano having glacier ice that exceeds that of any other mountain in the conterminous United States. This tremendous mass of rock and ice, in combination with great topographic relief, poses a variety of geologic hazards, both during inevitable future eruptions and during the intervening periods of repose. The volcano's past behavior is the best guide to possible future hazards. The written history (about A.D. 1820) of Mount Rainier includes one or two small eruptions, several small debris avalanches, and many small lahars (debris flows originating on a volcano). In addition, prehistoric deposits record the types, magnitudes, and frequencies of other events, and areas that were affected. Mount Rainier deposits produced since the latest ice age (approximately during the past 10,000 years) are well preserved. Studies of these deposits indicate we should anticipate potential hazards in the future. Some phenomena only occur during eruptions such as tephra falls, pyroclastic flows and surges, ballistic projectiles, and lava flows while others may occur without eruptive activity such as debris avalanches, lahars, and floods.
The five geographic information system (GIS) volcano hazard data layers used to produce the Mount Rainier volcano hazard map in USGS Open-File Report 98-428 (Hoblitt and others, 1998) are included in this data set. Case 1, case 2, and case 3 layers were delineated by scientists at the Cascades Volcano Observatory and depict various lahar innundation zones around the mountain. Two additional layers delineate areas that may be affected by post-lahar sedimentation (postlahar layer) and pyroclastic flows (pyroclastic layer).
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Digital Data for Volcano Hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington, Revised 1998