• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Volcanic Processes

Tsunami hazard warning signs from the United States (left) and Japan (right).
Tsunami hazard warning signs from the United States (left) and Japan (right). Tsunamis can be triggered by earthquakes related to volcanic activity.
Overview: A variety of volcanic processes shape landscapes. Students are introduced to volcanic hazards that may be present for humans near the volcano. A volcano does not have to be active in order for some types of hazards to occur. Volcanic hazards can be categorized into gases, lahars, landslides, lava flows, tsunamis, pyroclastic flows and tephra. Many different volcanic hazards endanger the lives of Japanese and American citizens. After students are able to identify the volcanic processes they then identify which pose hazards locally. Students will prepare a brochure to educate the public on hazards of their local mountain and how to mitigate danger.
Grade Level:
6 - 9
Objectives: Students will:
  • Recognize the scope of geologic processes that occur at Cascade volcanoes.
  • Describe volcanic processes.
  • Identify a variety of volcanic hazards and appropriate responses.
  • Communicate geologic processes to the public to raise their awareness of potential hazards.
Lesson Plan:
Volcanic Processes - word, 49KB
Volcanic Processes - pdf, 561KB
Resources: Volcanic Processes Powerpoint
Volcanic Hazards Update Powerpoint
Volcanic Processes Rubric
Volcanic Processes Hazard Maps
Common Volcanic Processes at Cascade Volcanoes
Student Handout - Volcanic Processes Definition Guide
Student Handout - Process Brochure

Did You Know?

Northwest face of Mount Rainier and Emmons Glacier as seen from Sunrise.

Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states at 35 square miles of snow and ice with Emmons Glacier being the largest by surface area with 4.3 square miles of ice. The Emmons is best viewed from Sunrise on the NE side of the mountain.