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Geologic Publications for Mount Rainier

The geology of Mount Rainier National Park

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Author(s): Howard A. Coombs

Document Type:
Publisher: University of Washington Publications in Geology
Published Year: 1936
Volume: 3
Number: 2
Pages: 131 to 212
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

No landmark is more familiar to the people of western Washington than the volcanic cone of Mount Rainier. Rising to a height of 14,408 feet it is the highest volcano in the United States, exclusive of Alaska, and towers 9,000 feet above its immediate base. The base, in this case, is the mile high Cascade Range which trends in a north-south direction dividing the State of Washington into two distinct units.

To the east is the Columbia plateau consisting of a tremendous series of basaltic flows collectively known as the Columbia River lavas. These also extend into eastern Oregon and southern Idaho and cover a total area of approximately 200,000 square miles. Continuing northward from the Columbia plateau are the Okanogan highlands composed of older plutonic and metamorphic rocks.

To the west of the Cascades is the Puget Sound depression which also trends in a north-south direction. The rocks in this trough are marine and brackish water sediments and intercalated volcanics, all of Tertiary age. Much of this area is covered with glacial deposits which locally may attain thicknesses of 1,000 feet. Farther to the west rise the northward extension of the Coast ranges in the prominent Olympic Mountains.

Mount Rainier is located on the top of the central Cascades, approximately 150 miles south of the Canadian border and 80 miles north of the Columbia River, the southern boundary of the State. To the north this range also bears the volcanic cones of Mount Baker and Glacier Peak; to the south are Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and numerous others, extending down to Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak in northern California. In this chain, Lassen Peak, Crater Lake, and Mount Rainier are the only peaks which have been awarded National Park distinction.

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In Text Citation:
Coombs (1936) or (Coombs, 1936)

References Citation:
Coombs, H.A., 1936, The geology of Mount Rainier National Park: University of Washington Publications in Geology, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 131-212.