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Geologist Weighs In On Local Volcanic Threat

Did you know that Oregon is home to several volcanoes? Some of those have the potential to erupt in our lifetime. After the recent anniversary of the Mount St. Helen's eruption, a local geologist is weighing in on volcanic threats.

Posted: May. 21, 2018 9:16 AM
Updated: May. 21, 2018 12:10 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Hawaii isn't the only state on the lookout for active volcanoes. Oregon and Northern California are home to numerous volcanoes laying dormant beneath the earth's surface. 

Some of the most notable are Mount Mazama (Crater Lake), Mount Hood, and Mount McLoughlin. While Hawaii is famous for its eruptions and active volcanoes, local geologists insist it's important to remember that the Pacific Northwest has its own volcanoes to worry about. 

Mike Strickler is a geologist and instructor with Rogue Community College. He says the Pacific Northwest sits along a major convergent plate boundary where volcanoes form, which means there could be more than what's named. 

"Right now we have Mount McLoughlin, we have Mount Shasta, we have Crater Lake, we've got the sisters and such that are defined as the most recent events and locations but you could have one come up in the middle of the Columbia River," said Strickler.

Strickler explains that while most volcanoes are considered dormant for the area, there is always a potential to erupt. 

"Certainly in the Earth's way of measuring time, they're active volcanoes," said geologist and RCC Instructor Mike Strickler. "The rest could be called dormant. They're still over the subduction zone. They still have potential to erupt, they still will erupt. It's not a matter of potential, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

While it's impossible to predict when a volcano will blow, Strickler says two volcanoes in our region have potential to erupt within the next 100 years. He says Mount Shasta and Mount Saint Helens are considered active but there's one volcano that could be a very significant eruption within our lifetime. 

"Ranier has been in my view is ready enough," said Strickler. "If you look at the shape of the mountain... Rainier is just waiting to go."

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