Medicine Lake volcano forms a broad, seemingly nondescript highland, as viewed from any angle on the ground. Seen from an airplane, however, treeless lava flows are scattered across the surface of this potentially active volcanic edifice. Lavas of Medicine Lake volcano, which range in composition from basalt through rhyolite, cover more than 2,000 km2 east of the main axis of the Cascade Range in northern California. Across the Cascade Range axis to the west-southwest is Mount Shasta, its towering volcanic neighbor, whose stratocone shape contrasts with the broad shield shape of Medicine Lake volcano. Hidden in the center of Medicine Lake volcano is a 7 km by 12 km summit caldera in which nestles its namesake, Medicine Lake. The flanks of Medicine Lake volcano, which are dotted with cinder cones, slope gently upward to the caldera rim, which reaches an elevation of nearly 8,000 ft (2,440 m). The maximum extent of lavas from this half-million-year-old volcano is about 80 km north-south by 45 km east-west. In postglacial time, 17 eruptions have added approximately 7.5 km3 to its total estimated volume of 600 km3, and it is considered to be the largest by volume among volcanoes of the Cascades arc. The volcano has erupted nine times in the past 5,200 years, a rate more frequent than has been documented at all other Cascades arc volcanoes except Mount St. Helens.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geologic map of Medicine Lake volcano, northern California
Scientific Investigations Map
U.S. Geological Survey
Volcano Science Center-Menlo Park
Pamphlet: ii, 48 p.; 2 Sheets: 58 x 41.3 inches and 58 x 40.5 inches; Database site