Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's Volcanic: Mt. Hood April 2012

I traveled to Oregon at the end of April to discuss some research with new colleagues, and spent my Saturday before leaving riding at Mt. Hood with some fellow geochemists. I’d traveled to Timberline once before (back during 2010) but this past April was a much more incredible experience.

View from top of Palmer lift

Eating snow

The first major difference is that, back in 2010, I only felt comfortable riding the groomed trails, and I was by myself. This time, I was aching to go play in untouched snow, and also had some fantastic people to ride with. There were a couple of surprises for me: one, although I was in Colorado just a few weeks earlier, the altitude smacked me in the lungs (~8500 ft), and; two, the snow was weird. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever ridden before, and every once in a while my board would catch on some sticky stuff (followed by a crash, of course). We messed around with the Go Pro and caught some footage – it looks like we’re riding on top of the clouds. The video is edited to music by Subject: Body (one of the bands that my friend, Tim, is a part of):

Mt. Hood itself is a little bit older than 500,000 years, although the past two major eruptions occurred 1500 and 200 years ago. It’s a part of the Cascade Range, which formed due to the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate underneath the North American plate.

From the USGS

Instead of violent explosions the lava at Mt. Hood mainly flowed downslope from a vent (burning and burying everything on the way) to form the volcano. Sometimes the lava moved in avalanches of hot rock, gas and ash (pyroclastic flows) when flowing out of collapsed lava domes in the steeper upper slopes. 

From the USGS

It’s been nice watching some of the edits from the Mt. Hood summer camps (Windell’s, HCSC), and I’m (of course) impressed with the geology that allowed such a fantastic, year-round rideable (still-active) volcano to exist. 

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