Visiting a Submerged 3,000-Year-Old Forest in Oregon

Just off the McKenzie Highway in central Oregon lies Crystal clear Lake. This small lake, fed by snowmelt from Mount Washington and close by springs isn’t an outdated lake. In fact, ~2,000 a long time back the lake did not even exist. As an alternative, the McKenzie River flowed past the location on its way to sign up for the Willamette River. Nonetheless, a volcano fashioned in the vicinity of the McKenzie that threw that route out the window.

The Central Oregon Cascade vistas may possibly be dominated by the big volcanoes like Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters, but the more compact lava fields like Sand Mountain and Belknap Crater could possibly be as essential. These parts of cinder cones and lava flows lined the landscape more than the past few thousand yrs. Most are unlikely to erupt once more, but a new volcanic field is additional than probably to form in this area in the future.

How Sand Mountain Made a Lake

Sand Mountain in Oregon. Credit: Lee Siebert, Smithsonian Establishment.

One of the most current is the Sand Mountain Volcanic Industry. There are 23 cinder cones and a lot of much more lava flows that can from this line of volcanic vents. Most of these shaped in eruptions that transpired only ~2,950 yrs in the past, though the volcanic industry was very likely active from 4,000 to 2,000 yrs ago.

Eruptions like the Sand Mountain Volcanic Area start out off as fissures (cracks) that variety, followed by lava flows that pour out of these cracks. Inevitably, the lava centralized to erupt from a single site, forming a cinder cone. This carefully resembles what takes place in Hawaii or Iceland.

In any situation, a person of the Sand Mountain lava flows manufactured its way down to the ancestral McKenzie River valley. The lava flows immediately dammed the river and shaped a lake — now identified as Apparent Lake — that is up to 100 ft deep. This repeated quite a few periods through the activity of the Sand Mountain Volcanic Field.

The Drowned Forest

Ahead of the damming, the region likely looked a great deal like the shores of Clear Lake glimpse right now, with stands of pine trees. Even so, as the lake crammed, these trees obtained flooded and at some point died. However, the chilly waters of the lake (35-43F) aided maintain the trees.

A ~2,950 yr-old tree drowned in Distinct Lake. Credit: Wikipedia.

Currently, you can row out into the lake and see the remains of these trees nevertheless standing. They have degraded some, but when you seem down into the very clear, cold waters and see these trees that perished pretty much 3,000 many years ago, you can not assistance of be shocked.

A view of a drowned tree at Crystal clear Lake in Oregon. Credit rating: Erik Klemetti

It is most likely that Indigenous Individuals who lived in the location at the time observed this eruption and its final results. How they felt about lava blocking a river and creating the lake is anyone’s guess, but suddenly a new lake with fish can shaped the place just before there was none.

In some approaches, this reveals how a little something as harmful as a volcanic eruption can be a net good to the landscape … and to the men and women living off that land. We can continue to delight in the benefits of those lava flows from millennia in the past even when preserving in intellect the volcanic potential of the Cascade Assortment.