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  • MOUNT BAKER: Eruptive history, hazards, research.

    Visit Mount Baker Volcano Research Center websites Main website and the blog These are no longer actively maintained but are still good references [DT, April, 2020]
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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
    Northwest Geology Field Trips, by Dave Tucker, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 United States License. You can use what you find here, repost it with attribution to the author, "remix" it for your own purposes, but may not use it with the intent of making money off of it.

    EDUCATORS: Please feel free to use anything you find here that is useful to your mission educating people about Earth science. E-mail me if it would help to have a larger or higher-resolution version of any of the images. tuckerd at geol dot wwu dot edu

Pillows in the Middle Fork Nooksack

Stacked pillows. Stolen from a commercial website. So, sue me.

Stacked pillows. Stolen from a commercial website. So, sue me.

(Click HERE to go straight to the page about the pillows along the road.)

No, pillow lava, silly!

Cross-sectioned basalt lava pillow in the Elbow Lake Formation, Middle Fork Nooksack Road. Click to enlarge.

Cross-sectioned basalt lava pillow in the Elbow Lake Formation, Middle Fork Nooksack Road. Click to enlarge.

I planned a XC ski trip up the Porter Creek Road or elsewhere off the Middle Fork Road today, but it was raining and 41 degrees. Indulging my secret identity as a geologist, I instead poked around in a roadside quarry, looking at pillow lava in the Elbow Lake Formation. A rewarding outing from Bellingham if you have a 2-3 hours on your hands and a deeply felt need to look at some exotic, unusual, and (admittedly) not too beautiful rocks. The saving grace is the lava pillows, and a cup of coffee on the way and on the way back. As an added bonus, there is access to Twin Sisters dunite nearby.

P.S. There ARE some nice roads to ski up and back down off the Middle Fork.

New glacier comparison photo: Boulder Glacier, Mount Baker: 1892-2012

Hassan Basagic, a glacier researcher at Portland State University, has been making a series of comparative photos showing glacial changes in the Cascades. He came across the Loomis-Baker comparison photos taken by E.D. Welsh (1912) and John Scurlock (2012) and posted on the MBVRC website a couple of months ago. Hassan sent the photo below, showing the Boulder Glacier (left side) and Park Glacier (on the right) from 4640′ on Boulder Ridge, which extends eastward from Mount Baker between Boulder and Park Creeks. The upper photo was taken by J.E. Booen (also spelled ‘Boen’ in some documents) during the first ascent of the Boulder Glacier route by the ‘LaConnor Expedition’. Hassan’s documentation says the photo was taken in 1892, but according to John Miles’s account of this ascent in Koma Kulshan (a history of human involvement with Mount Baker), this ascent was made in 1891. Hassan’s photo was taken this past fall (2012). The retreat of the Boulder Glacier is remarkable. It is not possible to measure the length of recession, but the decrease in ice thickness is clearly many tens of meters.

Here’s a link to the earlier post showing glacier comparison photos by Alan Kearney.

1892 ('91?) and 2012 photos of Mount Baker's east flank, showing profound glacial recession. Click to enlarge.

1892 (’91?) and 2012 photos of Mount Baker’s east flank, showing profound glacial recession. Click to enlarge.

Alan Kearney photos document glacial recession in the northern Cascades

Alan Kearney’s photos showing South Cascade Glacier’s retreat, 1981 to 2006. Click to enlarge.

I posted comparison photos last month showing 100 years of glacier recession on the south side of Mount Baker. (The fundraiser posters are still available- go to the preceding link.) My friend Alan Kearney has published similar comparison photos on his photography blog. Alan’s photo pairs show marked changes in glacial extent and thickness in just the past few decades of his mountaineering career. View his photos here: http://alankearneyphotography.blogspot.com/2012/11/local-ice-photographing-cascade-before.html

Much of Alan’s writing deals with photographic technique, which is interesting in itself. If all you want is glacier comparison photos, scroll down. There are several starting midway and going to the end.

100 years of change on Mount Baker featured in Nov. 5th Bellingham Herald

Bellingham Herald Nov 5, 2012. Click to enlarge

Read the Bellingham Herald article (front page, above the fold in the ‘hard copy’) about the two Mount Baker photos taken 100 years apart. The 1912 photo was taken by E.D. Welsh, the 2012 photo by John Scurlock.

The commemorative posters are for sale by MBVRC as  a fundraiser for the research program.

100 years of glacial change at Mount Baker; fundraiser poster for sale.

The 1912 Welsh photo at top, and the 2012 Scurlock re-created photo below. Click to enlarge.

Mount Baker Volcano Research Center is selling 20 x 30 ” posters showing a fantastic 1912 photo of the entire south side of Mount Baker, and the re-created photograph taken by John Scurlock 100 years later. The photos were taken from the summit of Loomis Mountain, south of the volcano and show much detail. Glacial recession is remarkable. Hop on over to the MBVRC website to see the poster, see some details about changes that 100 years have wrought, and learn how to order one. PLEASE PASS THIS POST TO OTHERS to help raise funds for a good cause- the MBVRC research and scholarship fund.

Dave