Last updated: November 6, 2021
This location is on the northern flank of the massive Medicine Lake Shield Volcano, named for the broad, gently-sloping profile. Although less recognizable than more familiar volcanoes like Mount Shasta, Medicine Lake is the largest volcano by surface area and volume in the Cascade Range. The lava that extruded from the volcano’s many vents ranged from iron-rich basalt to silica-rich rhyolite and obsidian. Re-melted portions of the earth’s crust and an influx of material from the mantle were the likely source of these diverse eruptions.
Imagine watching hot lava flowing toward you at this spot, as it did over twelve thousand years ago. Like treads rolling on a tank, the clinkery, cooling front of the flow fell off and was run over by the hot molten core. This Devils Homestead flow, which erupted from Fleener Chimneys more than a mile south of here, provides an excellent example of rough a’a lava.
More fluid pahoehoe lava leaves behind a smoother surface and can be seen at Black Crater. The wide variety of eruptions here at Lava Beds and the abundant features they left behind, makes this area an exceptional place to explore volcanic geology.