Ice Volumes on Cascade Volcanoes: Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Three Sisters, and Mount Shasta

Professional Paper 1365




During the eruptions of Mount St. Helens the occurrence of floods and mudflows made apparent the need for predictive water-hazard analysis of other Cascade volcanoes. A basic requirement for such analysis is information about the volumes and distributions of snow and ice on other volcanoes. A radar unit contained in a backpack was used to make point measurements of ice thickness on major glaciers of Mount Rainier, Wash.; Mount Hood, Oreg.; the Three Sisters, Oreg.; and Mount Shasta, Calif. The measurements were corrected for slope and were used to develop subglacial contour maps from which glacier volumes were measured. These values were used to develop estimation methods for finding volumes of unmeasured glaciers. These methods require a knowledge of glacier slope, altitude, and area and require an estimation of basal shear stress, each estimate derived by using topographic maps updated by aerial photographs. The estimation methods were found to be accurate within ?20 percent on measured glaciers and to be within ?25 percent when applied to unmeasured glaciers on the Cascade volcanoes. The estimation methods may be applicable to other temperate glaciers in similar climatic settings. Areas and volumes of snow and ice are as follows: Mount Rainier, 991 million ft2, 156 billion ft3; Mount Hood, 145 million ft2, 12 billion ft3; Three Sisters, 89 million ft2, 6 billion ft3; and Mount Shasta, 74 million ft2, 5 billion ft3. The distribution of ice and firn patches within 58 glacierized basins on volcanoes is mapped and listed by altitude and by watershed to facilitate water-hazard analysis.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ice Volumes on Cascade Volcanoes: Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Three Sisters, and Mount Shasta
Series title:
Professional Paper
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U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: 28 p.; 6 Plates