View of Mt. Mazama Pumice Flow

Tephra from Mt. Mazama's Climactic Eruption

It was one of Oregon’s highest peaks, over 12,000’ in elevation. It was taller than Mt. Hood and more massive than Mt. Jefferson. But in a matter of hours 7,700 years ago, it disappeared in one cataclysmic explosion, sending ash deposits as far away as Canada and hot pumice flows hundreds of feet thick up to 25 miles from today’s Crater Lake. The distinctive, white-colored signature layer of these tephra deposits can be found throughout Central Oregon today, revealing itself at trailside or on riverbanks when least expected.
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Photo of the Dry Meadow Fen

Fen Wetlands in the Jack Creek Headwaters

Tucked away in a seldom-visited corner of Fremont-Winema National Forest, just a half-hour drive east of Highway 97 south of Crescent, is a collection of groundwater-fed fens (peat wetlands) supporting some of the richest concentrations of rare and distinctive plants in the Pacific Northwest. Formed in thick deposits of volcanic pumice from the eruption of Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago, these fens are permanently wet year-round, with a fascinating assortment of mosses, sedges, wildflowers and even carnivorous plants.
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Panoramic Photo of Paulina Falls

Ancient, Cataclysmic Flood on Paulina Creek

Nearly all the clues needed to solve the mystery were right in plain sight — the huge gravel bars, the dry abandoned waterfalls, the actively-migrating falls just below Paulina Lake today, plus the wave-cut terraces marooned several feet above the lake’s current water level. But it wasn’t until two Forest Service researchers, Lawrence Chitwood and Robert Jensen, put all of these clues together back in the mid-1990s that the full story of Paulina Creek’s ancient flood became clear to everyone.
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