Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beauty in Destruction: Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake rests at the southern crest of the Cascade Mountain Range in southwestern Oregon. It is approximately 9.7 km (6.02 mi) in diameter between its widest points and 594 meters (1,949 ft) deep, making it the deepest lake in the United States and the 7th deepest in the world (though this number often fluctuates between seasons). This is interesting when taking into account that there are no inlets or outlets to or from the lake. All of the lake’s water is collected rain and snowfall from over the course of hundreds of years which gives Crater Lake some of the cleanest water in North America. To preserve this amazingly clean water, park services have kept Crater Lake extremely secluded with few roads leading to the lake area. Additionally, no private boats are allowed on the lake aside from those of regulated boat tours.

This little slice of heaven was not always so quiet and peaceful though. The lake was formed when an ancient volcano, Mount Mazama, erupted and collapsed around 7,500 years ago. Molten lava poured in and sealed the base of the caldera and then over hundreds of years, precipitation filled this void and created the lake that exists today. Following its main eruption, for hundreds of years several smaller eruptions created cinder cones on the base of the lake. Today, only one remains visible above the water, known as Wizard Island. Wizard Island’s summit stands 233 meters (764 ft) above the water level which offers good hiking and stunning scenic views.

Crater Lake is widely known for its deep blue water and its unique geology that tells that story of its violent past. While standing on the either the caldron’s edge, or from the summit of Wizard Island, it can be hard to believe that such beauty can stem from such a catastrophic event. This is a common pattern in nature and the most we can do is appreciate and preserve these gems that our planet has to offer.

Photo Credit:
Tyson Fisher, National Geographic


No comments: