Don't be fooled by Mount Rainier's silent beauty. When it erupts it could cause serious damage.
Although Mount Rainier has not produced a significant eruption in the past 500 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey it remains among the most dangerous volcanic mountains in the United States along with its Cascade range sister Mount St. Helens.
Because of Mount Rainier’s great height, frequent small earthquakes, active hydrothermal system, and extensive mantle of 26 glaciers, an eruption here could not only release lava but also create enough water to trigger huge mudflows that would swamp the densely populated surrounding lowlands, the USGS says on its website.
In 2007, scientists determined that the mountain was under-monitored relative to its potential danger, increasing the number of earthquake monitors on Rainier to nine. The volcano is now ringed with eight new GPS units to monitor the mountain’s movements and dotted with 21 small metal discs to gauge whether it changes shape.
Still, because of the massive potential damage and lack of warning prior to an eruption, it remains third among the 10 most dangerous volcanic mountains in the U.S., according to the USGS.
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Here they are in order:
1. Kilauea, Hawaii
2. Mount St. Helens, Washington
3. Mount Rainier, Washington
4. Mount Hood, Oregon
5. Mount Shasta, California
6. South Sister, Oregon
7. Lassen Volcanic Center, California
8. Mauna Loa, Hawaii
9. Redoubt, Alaska
10. Crater Lake, Oregon