Science students visit Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Geology 101 class took a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park to learn more about the geology of the area.
This trip was also open to all science students to attend, in total 17 students attended. They camped out at Summit Lake Campground in the heart of Lassen National Park. One student brought kayaks that all were welcome to jump on and paddle around the lake. The students had plenty of free time that they filled with hiking, fishing, and hanging out at camp.
Andy Rost led a couple mini lectures that covered the basic geological features that surrounded the area. The geology students went together on a hike to the top of Cinder Cone, a mountain that is a result of a single eruptive event in the mid-1600s. The eruption could have lasted a few months to a few years.
On the last day, 12 of the students woke up at 3:45 am to hike Lassen Peak and watch the sunrise at an elevation of 10,500 feet. Rost, Suzanne Gollery, and Chuck Levitan accompanied them. The hike was five miles round trip and had a 2000-foot elevation gain. This trail is only open four or five times a year to help reduce human impacts on the land. The early morning was tough, but many students found it their favorite part of the trip.
“Hiking the peak before dawn under the light of the moon was surreal enough, but watching the sun rise and the full moon fall needs no words,” said Graham Johnson, a senior.
The Lassen volcano erupted in 1915, which is a very short time on a geological timescale, according to Rost. The signs of recent volcanic activity can be seen throughout the park. One feature was a mud pot, a ten by ten hole of bubbling, boiling mud. The smell of sulfur was suffocating. These holes are left behind when a large volcano erupts. This opening from below the earths crust is established during the formation of a volcano and after magma is no longer present, water fills the void as heat and gasses rise up. This mud pot could be the remains of the ancient Brokeoff Volcano that would have been comparable to Mount Shasta in size.