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Thread: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

  1. #1
    Yes, I'm the guy pashnit's Avatar
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    Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Benzon
    Hey Tim I was on Glass Mtn Rd this past October. It is the one that comes into Medicine Lake from the north?
    Mike - I need a more detailed map to even get a name for this road, probably just a forest road designation. Last time I was up here, the road wasn't marked.

    But this is just south of Tule Lake and is called Tionesta Rd - FR 97 on the eastern end. The white line in this first map is the Oregon border.

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  2. #2
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    Re: A Phenomenon of Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Obsidian



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    I actually was up here again poking around awhile back, but it was too early in the spring all all this was still under snow. Have to wait till spring to be able to check this out, might just have to add it to the list of places to explore!

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    What you're looking at is the massive molten lava flow measured in square miles- which solidified so quickly it turned to glass. Interesting, you can see the waves of the flow, even 10,000 years later. Since this is all obsidian, there are very few trees and it's a barren expanse of black boulders of glass-like obsidian.

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    Panning back to get a shot of the summit of Glass Mountain. (the pic above is slightly at top right- match the road) This is looking south- you can see the road above in the pics above (#1 & #2) at center left. Hard to get a sense of scale of these. The actual Medicine Lake is at center top left I believe to the south of FR 97.


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    From USGS website
    Glass Mountain consists of a spectacular, nearly treeless, steep-sided rhyolite and dacite obsidian flow that erupted just outside the eastern caldera rim and flowed down the steep eastern flank of Medicine Lake volcano. Ten additional small domes of Glass Mountain rhyolite and rhyodacite lava lie on a N25degreesW trend to the north and one to the south. The age of Glass Mountain and its preceding pumice deposits has been a matter of discussion for some time.

    A radiocarbon age of 885+/-40 years B.P. was obtained on a dead cedar tree without limbs or bark that is preserved in the edge of one of the distal tongues of the flow. The dated material consisted of a piece of exterior wood containing about 30 annual growth rings. This age may be too old, because some of the outside of the tree is missing. The tephra deposits that precede the flow and domes may be somewhat older but are constrained to be less than about 1050 years B.P. by the Little Glass Mountain and Lassen data.

  3. #3
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    Re: A Phenomenon of Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Obsidian

    This is Shonchin Butte, which is just to the north a few miles from Glass Mountain in Lava Beds National Monument. It's a perfect cinder cone which you can see even from space. I parked the bike on the north side and walked the trail to the top (which you can barely see), at the top is the fire lookout. Mt Shasta (which is tall enough to create its own weather) is to the southwest.

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    The black stuff at center & right is all black lava flows

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    From: USGS website
    Cinder cones are easily eroded so please stay on the established trails and don't take shortcuts. Frothy lava, cooled in the air, created the large cinder cones throughout the monument. Schonchin Butte's .75 mile trail leads you to a panoramic view from the historic fire lookout. The lookout is staffed from June to September. Children of all ages can earn a Junior Fire Lookout badge. Butte is a geological word for any landform that sticks up abruptly, but cinder cone is a more descriptive geological way of describing this landmark of the monument.

    Erupting more than 30,000 years ago, it spewed ash and cinders into the air much like a can of soda when shaken. A lava spatter rampart is at the very top. From the lookout panoramic views of the Medicine Lake volcano, Mount Shasta, Mount McLoughlin, the Clear Lake Hills and the Warner Mountains can be viewed and photographed. On a really clear day, you can even see the south rim of Crater Lake. Below the butte, lava flows and collapses are easy to pick out in the landscape. This alone is reason enough to make the climb.

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    The view which you really can't tell from the keyhole views (in pics #1-3,)

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    Pics like this are what really got me stuck on the the 'top of the mountain' shot, after this, it became a bit of a genre to pursue.

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    Imagine an entire mountain of this stuff

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    Lookit post #1, then this. Same place. Interesting to use that program to go back to a journey like this.

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    I love riding in these areas Tim, it is a surreal place to visit, the entire Lava Beds Nat'l Monument and surrounding area has lava tube caves and ice caves you can explore, some running for miles...as the sat. pics reveal, it's a stark dusty beauty that somehow always fascinates, it's Primal...the kind of place you want to ride through on a reliable steed

    Also a lot of California and US history occured in this area...
    One of the costliest Indian Wars in terms of the number of soldiers vs. the number of Am.Indians. After killing General Canby (the only General to die in an Indian War) the Modoc Indian leader, Captain Jack, eventually surrendered... http://www.militarymuseum.org/Modoc1.html

    (Note: George Armstrong Custer was Lt. Colonel at the time of his death at the Little Bighorn; he did hold the rank of Brigadier General during the Civil War )

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    that pic of you looking out into the distance is epic!

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    I must echo both John and Tim, very "cool" place (except in summer ) The lava beds and Cap. Jack memorial are a must see. Just another of the amazing contrasts in Calif. Also if anyone has ever wanted to try flintknapping here is the place. I try to go every once in a while and bring back a load.

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    Re: Northern California's Glass Mountain - a Mtn of Volcanic Obsidian Rock

    Great spot. It's on my route for riding the perimeter of northern California on dirt roads. Lot's of ways to do it. I've left the coast on Bald Hills road and headed east to Hwy 96 at Weitchpec. I've also left the coast from Crescent City on Howland Hill road, through some majestic sequoias and headed east on dirt roads through (somehow) Bear Basin Road, where I was literally chased on my bike by a bear! On both of these trips I was sent towards the Glass Mountain as the highlight of the tour east.
    It's more about exploring the side roads, but it's a really amazing part of our country, Oregon and California side included!

    From Hwy 89 on the south side I seem to remember a turn off onto Medicine Lake Road. My memory is a little fuzzy- time for a road trip! Zoomed out on Magellan's topo map I see how close these roads are.

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