Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon




The Cascade mountain system extends from northern California to central British Columbia. In Oregon, it comprises the Cascade Range, which is 260 miles long and, at greatest breadth, 90 miles wide (fig. 1). Oregon’s Cascade Range covers roughly 17,000 square miles, or about 17 percent of the state, an area larger than each of the smallest nine of the fifty United States. The range is bounded on the east by U.S. Highways 97 and 197. On the west it reaches nearly to Interstate 5, forming the eastern margin of the Willamette Valley and, farther south, abutting the Coast Ranges. 

Along its Oregon segment, the Cascade Range is almost entirely volcanic in origin. The volcanoes and their eroded remnants are the visible magmatic expression of the Cascadia subduction zone, where the offshore Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is subducted beneath North America. Subduction occurs as two lithospheric plates collide, and an underthrusted oceanic plate is commonly dragged into the mantle by the pull of gravity, carrying ocean-bottom rock and sediment down to where heat and pressure expel water. As this water rises, it lowers the melting temperature in the overlying hot mantle rocks, thereby promoting melting. The molten rock supplies the volcanic arcs with heat and magma. Cascade Range volcanoes are part of the Ring of Fire, a popular term for the numerous volcanic arcs that encircle the Pacific Ocean.

Study Area

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Oregon Historical Society
Publisher location Portland, OR
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description HTML Document
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title The Oregon Encyclopedia
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Cascade Mountains
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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