Mount Baker is an ice-clad volcano in the North Cascades, located about 50 kilometers E of Bellingham, WA. After Mount Rainier, it is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade volcanoes.
Deposits which record the last 14,000 years at Mount Baker indicate that it has not had highly explosive eruptions like those of Mount St. Helens or Glacier Peak, nor has it erupted frequently. Historically, the most destructive and frequent events at Mount Baker have been debris flows and avalanches, some of which coincided with eruptive activity. The USGS provides a very Open File hazard assesment report by Gardner et. al., 1995. Heat flow and fumarolic activity became elevated in 1975, but were not accompanied by any other changes.
The PNSN operates 2 seismometers on or near Mount Baker. On average, we locate 1 to 2 earthquakes within 10 km of the volcano each year. We also often record seismic events related to glacier motion, and less frequently those related to rock-fall or ice/snow avalanches. See the seismicity page for a summary of ten years of events at Mount Baker.
Below you will find an epicenter map and time-depth plot for a region around Mount Baker for the decade, approximately 2001 - 2012 that shows typical or background levels of earthquakes in this region. Note, that only some of the earthquake locate right at the volcano. Other seismicity is 20 km to the southwest of the volcano. Just off the map to the northwest is a very active area with several swarms of events in the Demming, WA area. While there has been only one seismograph located right at the volcano there are several very sensitive ones not too far away such that the regional seismic network can reliably detect and locate earthquakes of magnitdue 1.2 and greater in this area. Smaller earthquakes could occur without being detected.
- Red dots represent events occuring in the last month of the decade.
- Green dots represent events occuring in the last year, but more than a month ago.
- Circles represent older events.
- Triangles represent PNSN seismic stations. Station names are listed below each triangle.
- Black star indicates approximate position of Mount Baker summit.
- Magnitude and distance scales appear at lower right.
Mount Baker has many active glaciers on it, many of which generate seismic signals when they move. Some of the plotted events above may be due to these glacier sources rather than true earthquakes. Because of the strong dispersion of seismic waves in the geologically complex rock of a volcano seismic sources at or very near the surface are hard to discriminate from real earthquakes at shallow depths.