Rock, Water, Fire

This is a digital story I made for a video competition in praise of Newberry NVM.

Below is a photo essay about a recent trip to Newberry.

What Has George Bush the Elder Done For Us Lately?

In November 1990, Newberry National Volcanic Monument was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. Over 54,000 acres were set aside and the area was designated a national treasure (well, it already was, but designation is everything if you don’t want it trampled flat by the admiring hordes).

NewberryMap

 Newberry Caldera punches a hole in the top of Newberry Volcano and then a whole lotta land runs down the northwest flank of the volcano 4,000 feet to the Deschutes River.

Geology and Rockhound Nerds Alert!

Newberry has the widest variety of volcanic features of any National Park or Monument. Rock out to your heart’s content at the Big Obsidian Flow, Lava Butte, Lava Cast Forest, Lava River Cave, Paulina Falls, Paulina Peak and two caldera lakes. I love this place!

PaulinaPeakPrima
Paulina Peak from the shore of Paulina Lake where we are staying in one of the historic cabins for rent here.

• Newberry Volcano is the largest volcano in the Cascades and covers a 1,200 square mile area with its lava flows.

RedRockBomb
A really big red lava bomb hurled out of the volcano not so long ago. It has usefully fetched up on the lawn of the Paulina Lake Visitor Center.

• Newberry National Volcanic Monument contains the widest variety of volcanic features of any national park or monument in the U.S.

Cascade range
All the major volcanoes in the Central Oregon Cascade Range can be seen from near the shore of Newberry Caldera.

• Newberry Volcano is considered active and will certainly erupt again either passively (lava Flows) or explosively (ash and pumice).

obsidian_silhouette_pointy
Volcanic features and pyramids of stone give a spooky, other-worldly silhouette to the caldera skyline.

• The slopes of Newberry Volcano are covered with more than 400 cinder cones and volcanic vents, Lava Butte being the most well known.

Obsidian silhouettes scrape open the sky.
Obsidian silhouettes scrape open the sky.

• Before the formation of the Caldera, Newberry’s summit was 500 to 1,000 feet higher than Paulina Peak is today.

Paulina_Falls_2
Paulina Falls is formed by Paulina Creek dropping out of the caldera lake on its way to the Deschutes River a looong way down hill. The name is from a Paiute Indian chief involved in the Snake War, from 1864-68. Chief Paulina was notorious for carrying out violent raids on settlers, no doubt fully justified!

• Eruptions at Newberry Volcano have changed the course of water flowing in the Deschutes River drainage many times.

• At the point where Lava River Cave crosses beneath Highway 97 the roof of the cave is 50 feet thick.

• Newberry Volcano is considered a very high threat volcano by the USGS due to recent volcanic activity (1,300 years ago), the presence of hot springs, and the 200,000 people living in its shadow.

Humans add their distinctive shapes to the weird crenellations of the Big Obsidian Flow skyline.
Humans add their distinctive shapes to the weird crenellations of the Big Obsidian Flow skyline.

• The Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon, ash from its eruption 1,300 years ago reached present day Idaho.

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At a mere 1300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon. A one-mile interpretive trail climbs up and onto this impressive lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice.

• Newberry Volcano is made up of ash, pumice, lava, cinder, and mudflows. It contains over 120 cubic miles of volcanic material, compared to only 6 cubic miles at Mt. St. Helens.

The low edge of the caldera lake doesn't really help you understand that you're floating on a blast zone.
The low edge of the caldera lake doesn’t really help you understand that you’re floating on a blast zone.

• The term ‘crater’ in the place names Newberry Crater and nearby Crater Lake is a bit of a misnomer. These volcanic features are correctly termed calderas.

We visited recently with Charlie Two Legs and Elaine, Patron Saint of Patience, accompanied by Cash (as in Johnny) the Dog.

Charlie Johnston, the famous painter (Artist in residence at the Grand Canyon, for example) and Cash the Dog
Charlie Johnston, the famous painter (Artist in residence at the Grand Canyon, for example) and Cash the Dog
Elaine Rhode, Writer, and Cash doing some birding around Paulina Lake.
Elaine Rhode, Writer, and Cash doing some birding around Paulina Lake.

Newberry Volcanic National Monument is home to a variety of wildlife, and I got a chance to photograph these denizens.

Starting high and working our way down, first, the great fisher of the sky--the osprey.
Starting high and working our way down, first, the great fisher of the sky–the osprey.
I spotted Spotted Sandpipers foraging along the lake shore debris.
I spotted Spotted Sandpipers foraging along the lake shore debris.
Both Chipmunks and Golden-Mantled Squirrels provided entertainment.
Both Chipmunks and Golden-Mantled Squirrels provided entertainment.
ammonite
Ammonites stirred into the great geologic stew that is the Monument, give proof to what we already know–that this part of Oregon was once a vast sea.

 

garter_snake
This beautiful Common Garter Snake had a view home right on the water’s edge.

 

This is a magnificent red ant hill surrounded by a circle of magenta penstemon. Don't tell me ants don't have a sense of aesthetics!
This is a magnificent red ant hill surrounded by a circle of magenta penstemon. Don’t tell me ants don’t have a sense of aesthetics!
Evening reflection time in the cabin with artists Peter Jensen and Charlie Johnston.
Evening reflection time in the cabin with artists Peter Jensen and Charlie Johnston.

I’m giving John Muir the last word today:

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 438.

2 Replies to “Rock, Water, Fire”

  1. Thank you for the insightful journey into the heart of volcano country. Beautifully written and illustrated…and it’s all in your backyard. Doesn’t get much better than that, glimpsing the world in all its awesome variety right where you (we) are…I love the aesthetic aunt hill…xoxo

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