Newberry Volcano (Volcano Week 4)

Wednesday, 29th July 2009 by

It’s Volcano Week 4 here at GSS. Volcanoes, about a week. You know the drill!

Newberry Volcano is an immense shield volcano located in central Oregon. In addition to a main volcanic caldera, the system is composed of many domes, cones, craters and lava flows across an area more than 32km in width in addition to two large fissures which extend outwards a considerable distance.

Newberry Volcano

The central caldera, known as Paulina Peak, was created over hundreds of thousands of years and many eruptions; it now contains a pair of lakes fed by hot springs – Paulina Lake and East Lake. Extreme temperatures have been recorded beneath the caldera, leading to exploration with a view to creating geothermal power. The lava flow to the south of the lakes is known as Big Obsidian Flow.

Newberry Volcano

Newberry Volcano is noted for creating many different types of lava, with a corresponding variety of landscape features being created as a result. The entire system is protected as the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Apollo-era astronauts trained in areas of the volcano that resemble the moon’s surface.

Some of the most prominent features are buttes – tall cinder cones which result from a single eruption, including this cluster north of the lakes.


One of the most prominent is Lava Butte, which is approximately 150m tall, and has the Lava Lands Visitor Center at its base. Lava Butte is visible in a quite scenic Street View image from nearby Highway 97 … though it appears to have been so cold that one of the camera lenses froze over!

Lava Butte Lava Butte

There are three large lava fields (mostly flat areas of volcanic rock) to the southest of the caldera – Devil’s Garden, Squaw Ridge and Four Craters. Extending from the edge of the latter is the imaginatively-named Crack-in-the-Ground, a 20m deep and 3km long fissure which is popular with hikers.

Lava Fields Crack-in-the-Ground

Equally creatively-named are the two nearby large maars, or explosion craters – Big Hole and Hole-in-the-Ground.

Explosion Craters