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Mount Shasta

Mt Shasta and Shastina from the northwest

Shastina with Mt. Shasta behind - Feb, 2003
, (credits) | (credits)''

Little Glass Mountain and Mt Shasta

Mount Shasta (14,161 feet) is a stratovolcano that is the second highest peak in the Cascade Range and the second highest point in California (after Mount Whitney.) Several religious cults claim that descendants of Atlantis or extraterrestrials live in the mountain, oblivious to the fact of the population explosion apparently taking place inside it. The mountain stands 10,000 feet above the surrounding area and has an estimated volume of 108 cubic miles.

Table of contents
1 Religion
2 Volcanic hazards
3 Geology


Native American lore of the area held that Shasta is inhabited by the spirit chief Skell who descended from heaven to the mountain's summit. Since then many other faiths and cults have been attracted to Shasta (more than any other Cascade volcano). Mt. Shasta, California, a small town near Shasta's western base, is a focal point for many of these religions. Some examples: Association Sananda and Sanat Kemara, I AM Foundation, Knights of the White Rose, Radiant School of the Seekers and Servers, Rosicrucians, and Understanding, Inc. Many of these cults hold that races of sentient beings, often superior in many ways to humans, live in Shasta or often visit the volcano in UFOs. There are in fact disk-shaped clouds that sometimes form over the mountain.

Volcanic hazards

During the last 10,000 years Shasta has erupted an average of every 800 years but in the past 4500 years the volcano has erupted an average of every 600 years. The last significant eruption on Shasta may have occurred 200 years ago.

Mount Shasta can release volcanic ash, pyroclastic flows or dacite and andesite lava. Its deposits can be detected under two nearby small towns totalling 20,000 in population. Shasta has an explosive, eruptive history. There are fumaroles on the mountain, which shows that Shasta is still alive.

The worst case scenario for an eruption is a large pyroclastic flow, such as what occurred at Mount St. Helens. Since there is ice, lahars would also result. Ash would probably blow inland, perhaps as far as eastern Nevada. There is a small chance that an eruption could also be bigger resulting in a collapse of the mountain, as happened at Crater Lake in Oregon, but this is of much lower probability.

The US Geologic Survey considers Shasta a volcano with a high probability of erupting again.


Main article: Geology of Mount Shasta

The mountain consists of four separate cones buried atop one another. Shastina (12,300 feet) is the most obvious cone and forms a lesser summit. It has a fully intact summit crater which shows that Shastina postdates the last Ice Age. The rest of Shasta's surface is relatively free of glacial erosion except, paradoxically, for its south side where Sargents Ridge runs parallel to the U-shaped Avalanche Gulch (the largest glacial valley on the volcano, although it does not presently have a glacier in it). There are five named, yet tiny, glaciers clustered on the mountain's north side.

Shasta receives much less snow than most other Cascade mountains because of its southernly position and the fact that moisture-laden air from the Pacific Ocean must first surmount the Klamath Mountains it reaches Shasta. The annual snowline on Shasta is therefore above 10,000 feet.

There are many buried glacial scares on the mountain that were originally excavated in glacial periods ("ice ages") of the present Wisconsonian glaciation. Most have since been filled-in with andesite lava, pyroclastic flows, and talus from lava domes.