Latest Pleistocene to Present Geology of Mount Baker Volcano, Northern Cascade Range, Washington

Professional Paper 1865
By: , and 



Mount Baker is the prominent andesitic stratocone that forms the youngest volcanic center in the Mount Baker volcanic field. Its heavily glaciated cone, rising to 3,286 meters, is an international landmark, dominating the skyline of Vancouver, British Columbia, even though the volcano is located 25 kilometers south of the international border. Mount Baker caught the attention of scientists and the public alike in 1975–76 during a period of increased steaming, thermal output, and near-vent lithic tephra falls. Although a magmatic eruption did not ensue, it awoke the populace to the possibility of renewed volcanic activity in the Cascade Range (the first since the 1914–17 eruptions of Lassen Peak, Calif.)—a possibility fulfilled just five short years later with the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington. The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, with its dramatic edifice collapse, extraordinary pyroclastic density current, and catastrophic lahars, invigorated the scientific community into studying these then little-known processes. It also highlighted the need to better understand eruptive histories at other Cascade Range volcanoes in order to prepare for future eruptions.

The 1975 unrest also spawned one of the earliest volcano hazard assessments in the Cascade Range, which recognized the rich history of postglacial events at Mount Baker and identified the risk posed by volcanic mudflows, or lahars. The focus of this study is to more fully describe the late-glacial to present surficial geology, to better constrain the timing of events (including 19th-century floods), and to dovetail this history with Hildreth and others’ (2003) bedrock study.

Suggested Citation

Scott, K.M., Tucker, D.S., Riedel, J.L., Gardner, C.A., and McGeehin, J.P., 2020, Latest Pleistocene to present geology of Mount Baker Volcano, northern Cascade Range, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1865, 170 p.,

ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter A. Summary
  • Chapter B. Introduction
  • Chapter C. Glaciers and Mount Baker
  • Chapter D. Glacial Lakes Concrete and Baker
  • Chapter E. Latest Pleistocene Assemblages of Lava Flows and Fragmental Deposits
  • Chapter F. Latest Pleistocene to Present Tephras and the Early Holocene Sulphur Creek Lava Flow
  • Chapter G. Holocene Syneruptive Lahars and Noneruptive Debris Flows
  • Chapter H. Postglacial Eruptive Periods and Implications for Future Hazards
  • References Cited
  • Appendixes 1–9
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Latest Pleistocene to present geology of Mount Baker Volcano, northern Cascade Range, Washington
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1865
DOI 10.3133/pp1865
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description xi, 170 p.
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Mount Baker
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details