Mt. Hood
Photo: US Geological Survey

The composite cone of Mt. Hood is Oregon’s highest peak at 11,239 feet, and the state’s most recently active volcano. One of the 5 “sentinels,” Mt. Hood last erupted in 1859.

A Tale of Beauty and the Beast


Rich volcanic soils, pristine environments, and beautiful vistas make Oregon one of the most desirable places to live. But we must be mindful of the primordial power residing within Oregon’s volcanoes. It creates, but it also destroys. Many hazardous eruptions have occurred in the past 12,000 years. Understanding forces that underlie both the beauty and the potential hazards posed by volcanoes is important to all Oregonians.


In this window, you’ll learn about Oregon’s five sentinels: the volcanic centers considered to have the most potential to erupt again and are the most hazardous.


Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters, Mt. Mazama and Newberry Volcano.


This window also summarizes the 50 million year history of volcanism in Oregon and shows why Portland and Bend are two cities truly built upon volcanoes!


Digging Deeper: For more information, visit these websites:


The US Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) studies the Cascades Volcanoes, monitors their activity, and shares this information with the citizens of the Pacific Northwest: 


Learn about volcanoes in the United States and around the world at Volcano World:


Portland vicinity volcanoes:


Oregon Volcanoes: Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program:


1997 USGS Publication Volcanoes is a good introduction to volcanism:


Digging Deeper: For more information, give this sample of books a read:


Geology of Oregon, 5th Edition by Elizabeth L. Orr and William N. Orr (2000, Kendall/Hunt []) Professors at the University of Oregon, the Orr’s have been writing about Oregon’s geology for decades.


In Search of Ancient Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop (2003, Timber Press

[]) Take a photographic journey through time and see Oregon’s ancient places.

Assembling Oregon
Geological Resources
Geology and People
Volcanoes of Oregon