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USGS Geology in the Parks

Field trip map 2; Baker River
FIELD TRIP STOP 10 - Schriebers Meadow Road (off Baker River Road)

Schriebers Meadow Road

Last whack
Erosion along the sides of the valley-filling lava flow leads to an inversion of topography.

Sulphur Creek lava flow and its future

Three miles beyond the turnoff from the main Baker River Road (USFS Road 11), the road to Schriebers Meadow (USFS Road 12) ascends the sloping surface of a basaltic lava flow, which erupted from a small parasitic volcano on the slopes of Mount Baker at Schriebers Meadow. Rocky and Sulphur Creeks flow on this relatively young lava and have cut steep-sided slots in it. Since the rough surface of the flow has not been glaciated, geologists know that it erupted after the Ice Age ended about 13,000 years ago. Because the lava is so permeable, rain and snowmelt have little chance to erode it before seeping underground. Between major creek channels the lava is well preserved. Unfortunately the brush is thriving and even a glimpse of the flow surface is fast disappearing.

As erosion continues to wear away the ridges on each side of this valley, this lava may eventually become a ridge-capping flow perched high above deep canyons, as have older flows on Forest and Lava Divides on the east side of Mount Baker.

On to ancient rocks

Material in this site has been adapted from a book, Geology of the North Cascades: A Mountain Mosaic by R. Tabor and R. Haugerud, of the USGS, with drawings by Anne Crowder. It is published by The Mountaineers, Seattle.

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