Eruptions and other geologic events at Mount Baker during the last 10,000 years have repeatedly affected adjacent areas, especially the valleys that head on the south and east sides of the volcano. Small volumes of tephra were erupted at least four times during the past 10,000 years. Future eruptions like these could cause as much as 35 centimeters of tephra to be deposited at sites 17 kilometers from the volcano, 15 centimeters of tephra to be deposited 29 kilometers from the volcano, and 5 centimeters, 44 kilometers from the volcano. Lava flows were erupted at least twice during the last 10,000 years and moved down two valleys. Future lava flows will not directly endanger people because lava typically moves so slowly that escape is possible. Hot pyroclastic flows evidently occurred during only one period and were confined to the Boulder Creek valley. Such flows can move at speeds of as much as 150 kilometers per hour and can bury valley floors under tens of meters of hot rock debris for at least 15 kilometers from the volcano. large mudflows, most of which contain hydrothermally altered rock debris, originated at Mount Baker at least eight times during the last 10,000 years. The largest mudflow reached 29 kilometers or more down the valley of the Middle Fork Nooksack River, west of the volcano, about 6,000 years ago. Extensive masses of hydrothermally altered rock that are potentially unstable exist today near the summit of the volcano, especially in the Sherman Crater - Sherman Peak area. Avalanches of this material could be triggered by steam explosions, earthquakes, or eruptions, or may occur because of slow-acting forces of processes that gradually decrease stability. large avalanches could move downslope at high speed and could grade downvalley into mudflows. Floods caused by rapid melting of snow and ice by lava or by hot rock debris could affect valley floors many tens of kilometers from the volcano and could have especially severe effects if they were to occur at a time of flooding resulting from rapid snowmelt or heavy rains.
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USGS Numbered Series
Postglacial volcanic deposits at Mount Baker, Washington, and potential hazards from future eruptions