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Mount Rainier: Rampart Ridge and Longmire Meadow

Mount Rainier: Rampart Ridge and Longmire Meadow
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Rampart Ridge with Longmire Meadow in foreground, Mount Rainier

Rampart Ridge with Longmire Meadow in foreground, Mount Rainier

Beyond and north of Longmire Meadow on Mount Rainier stands a cliff of basalt columns. Rampart Ridge (depicted to the left in the background), which comprises the columns, does more than just offset a beautiful meadow’s light colors with texture and dark contrast, it borders the meadow and showcases a 370,000 year old lava eruption. Like much of the Cascade Mountain Range, of which Mount Rainier is a member in Washington, volcanic activity formed it, partially with lava.

A 1.03 million year-old lava remnant and other volcanic debris indicate that an older version of Mount Rainier grew between 1 and 2 million years ago. Ancestral Mount Rainier grew large, and its radial system of ridges and canyons suggest it formed in a similar manner to the current volcano. Eruptive output diminished after 1 million years ago. Erosion then stripped away most of the mountain (Sisson and Lanphere 2008:31).

Current Mount Rainier began growing about 500,000 years ago when pyroclastic flows buried the ancestral volcano’s center. These eruptions continuously constructed the mountain until approximately 400,000 years ago, but they did not cease. The mountain spews lava, ash, pumice and other volcano innards even up to the present. This occurs in time periods of sporadic flow. Between 400,000 and 280,000 years ago, one such sporadic-flow era transpired, the one in which Rampart Ridge formed (Sisson and Lanphere 2008:31).

Trail of the Shadows with Rampart Ridge in Background, Mount Rainier

Trail of the Shadows with Rampart Ridge in Background, Mount Rainier

The andesite lava flow that formed Rampart Ridge erupted 370,000 years ago (Sisson and Lanphere 2008:31). The ridge that remains today resisted glacial and riverine erosion, which helped form valleys such as Longmire Meadow in the foreground (USGS 2005).

While the images to the right and above depict Rampart Ridge from Longmire Meadow, the Rampart Ridge Trail extends from the meadow’s Trail of the Shadows onto the ridge itself. It is a 4.5 mile loop, which Mount Rainier Park indicates takes 2.5 hours to complete. I imagine that time-frame is during the summer. I hear that it is also a popular showshoeing trail. Here is the link that describes Rampart Ridge Trail information: http://www.visitrainier.com/pg/hike/8/Rampart%20Ridge%20Trail.

A geologic and human history of Longmire Meadow in the above photograph’s foreground is discussed in the May 14, 2011 post.

Mt. Rainier Posts

References

Sisson, Thomas W. and Marvin A. Lanphere

2008   Lava and Ice – Growth and Eruptive Style of Mount Rainier. In Roadside Geology of Mount Rainier National Park and Vicinity, pp. 30-34, by Patrick Pringle, edited by Katherine M. Reed, Jaretta M. Roloff, Karen D. Meyers, and J. Eric Schuster. Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, Washington.

USGS (United States Geological Survey)

2005 (last update)   Thumbnail Biography of Mount Rainier. In Geological Survey Bulletin 1292: The Geologic Story of Mount Rainier. Electronic document, http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/geology/publications/bul/1292/sec2.htm, accessed May 15, 2011.

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Rampart Ridge with Longmire Meadow in foreground, Mount Rainier by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License
Trail of the Shadows with Rampart Ridge in Background, Mount Rainier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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