Volcanic hazard management - Mount Rainier, USA



The idyllic Mt. Rainer:

Mount Rainier

But … a different view from Volcano World:

"Mount Rainier is potentially the most dangerous volcano in the Cascades because it is very steep, covered in large amounts of ice and snow, and near a large population that lives in lowland drainages. Numerous debris avalanches start on the volcano. The largest debris avalanche traveled more than 60 miles (100 km) to Puget Sound. The most recent eruption was about 2,200 years ago and covered the eastern half of the park with up to one foot (30 cm) of lapilli, blocks, and bombs."

We call it low probability, high consequence. It's a low probability it's going to occur in our lifetime. But if and when it does, the consequences are going to be huge.

Steven Bailey, Pierce County, Washington's director of emergency management


  1. Describe the location of Mount Rainier.
  2. List the four volcanic hazards associated with Mount Rainier.
[23 July 2014]
  1. What is a Lahar?
  2. Explain why lahars are a natural hazard around Mt Rainer and not just an extreme natural event.
  1. Describe the pattern of lahar-based volcanic hazards around Mount Rainier. 
  2. Explain the pattern of lahar-based volcanic hazards around Mount Rainier.
  1. Use the ‘Pierce County Volcano Evacuation Routes’ overlay to describe the risk to the 3 houses listed on the overlay and then recommend an escape route for each one in case of a volcanic hazard emergency.
  2. List three ways in which the volcanic hazards presented by Mount Rainier are managed in the area surrounding the volcano. 
  3. The advice given by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency: Agency of the US government) about what to do before and during a volcanic eruption can be seen below. Design a poster to educate the community about one of the recommendations made by FEMA. Your design should be clear and focused – ensure the text can be read from a distance!


Driedger, Carolyn L., and Scott, William E., 2008, Mount Rainier; living safely with a volcano in your backyard: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2008-3062 [http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3062/]. Version 1.0, August 28, 2008