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Crater Lake "Burp" Catches World's Attention   
Monday April 6, 2009
By Kernan Turner

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

When Crater Lake “burped” in 1945, it caught the attention of the world. Time Magazine reported, “A cloud of smoke – or dust-filled gas – billowed out of the deep water, (and) rose high in the air.” It said tourists flocked to the lake to watch.

Scientists described bluish-gray clouds of smoke or gas that mushroomed over the lake several times from September to December.  On clear days with no sign of fog or storm conditions, the clouds spewed from the center of the lake and drifted away in the breeze. 

A submarine probe in the 1980s confirmed the presence of hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the lake.

On Sept. 20, 1993, strong earthquakes shook park residents, who wondered if Mount Mazama might be awakening.  Seismographs recorded 2,500 weak aftershocks over the following three months, but located the epicenter 40 miles south of the lake.

“An earthquake is one of the most unnerving experiences a person can have at Crater Lake,” National Park Service scientists observed in 2001.

They said the tremors did not portend volcanic activity, but acknowledged “it would be a mistake to assume that the mountain is dead, or even dormant.”

Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Kernan Turner, the program producer is Raymond Scully.  I’m Shirley Patton.  As It Was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To share stories or to learn more about the series, visit asitwas – dot.org.

Sources:
Mark, Steve and Mastroguiseppe. “Crater Lake NP: Another Eruption?” taken from their article “Reminder of Uncertainty.”  National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior 2001:  http://www.nps.gov/archive/crla/quake.htm
 “Scenic Volcano” Time Magazine Nov. 12, 1945, Crater Lake National Park News: http://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/crater-lake-news/scenic-volcano.htm

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