Mount Rainier Lahar: Greater Seattle will be drowned by a river of hot mud

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Poor Seattle can’t catch a break.

It is prone prone to giant earthquakes and even more terrible, the entire Greater Seattle is at the risk of being buried under a sea of mud.

mount rainier lahar seattle
Mount Rainier and Tacoma, WA. Mount Rainier could bury Seattle in mud after eruption triggers catastrophic lahar. Picture by USGS

We’ve already covered how the mild-mannered city of Seattle is particularly prone to giant earthquakes… But read this below, because it actually gets worse…

The area lies downstream from Mount Rainier, which carries the questionable honor of being one of the most dangerous volcanoes in existence.

However, this particular danger doesn’t come from soot and magma. Sure, there would be some if it was to erupt, but that would be just the icing on the horror cake.

The true killer would be a lahar, whose nerdy name betrays its potential for destruction. Lahars are giant flows of hot mud, trees and water, rolling forward with the consistency of a zillion tons of wet cement and at speeds up to 60mph.

mount rainier greatest dangers are lahars
Mount Rainier greatest harzards are lahars. This map features lahar pathways from events heading on Mount Rainier – map showing three major events from last 10,000 years. Map by USGS

Lahars Can Get Big

Urban Seattle could be facing a Lahar as tall as 600 freaking feet. How do we know? Because it’s happened before!

Around 5,000 years ago, a giant lahar called the Osceola Mudflow filled a part of Puget Sound with three cubic kilometers of hot, steamy, gooey mud. What was once a pristine sea was, in a matter of hours, suddenly 200 square miles of new land.

For comparison, the disastrous 1985 Nevado del Ruiz lahar that killed 25,000 people in Colombia only had 2.5 percent of the volume of the Osceola Mudflow.

So, What Can Be Done Against Lahars?

A lahar detection system was installed in 1998, but it remains loose and incomprehensive.

To make matters worse, these mud tsunamis are a right bastard to detect.

A lahar doesn’t need a volcanic eruption as an excuse to kick in. A sector collapse or some magma leakage could be enough to send a mudnami the size of Godzilla into Seattle.

rainier lahar risk map, mount rainier lahar risk map
Mount Rainier lahar risk map. Via USGS

If just the Puyallup Valley lahar sparks off, material damages alone could be as high as $13 billion.

Also, a non-volcanic lahar could easily spread from one to several of the six Mount Rainer lahar systems, multiplying the destruction.

So you now probably understand why all earthquake swarms in the vicinity of Mount Rainier drive people crazy.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. And that would be bad, how? freattle is a liberal cesspool controlling most of a once beautiful state – politically, it’s a sewer…

  2. It seems that most of our west coast volcanoes blow out on their eastern flank. If that is the case with Mt Rainer, any pyroclastic flow or Lahar would more than likely not reach Seattle unless the mountain blew straight up or out it western flank which would mean that either would have to flow for at least 20 miles before hitting major population areas. At least a half dozen small towns or hamlets could be overwhelmed depending on how the mountain blows. Only very large blow-outs would produce so much flow it would inundate all the surrounding small towns.

  3. Seattle is not in as great a danger as is Tacoma, Puyallup and the valley. I am from Seattle, but no longer live there. It has been taken over by commies and socialists. It used to be a ‘jewel’ of Washington State. Liberals/ democrats are destroying the beautiful state of Washington.

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