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Volcanic Hazards at Mount Baker

Mount Baker is an active volcano that last erupted in 1843. Most of its surrounding area is still largely unpopulated – much of the mountain is in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. However, each year greater and greater numbers of people live and play in areas downstream and downwind that could be affected by future volcanic hazards.

The next eruption of Mount Baker may produce lava flows, pyroclastic flows, tephra falls, lahars, and flanks failures. Flank failures and eruptive activity spawning lahars are by far the greatest concern because they can travel tens of kilometers from source into more populated areas. However, flank failures and lahars can also originate without associated volcanic activity and therefore without warning. A 2010 landslide and debris flow from Mount Meager, a volcano in British Columbia, Canada, provides an example of the kind of hazard such spontaneous flank failures can present.