American Ring of Fire

Some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever find are in the Cascade Mountain Range in the western United States. The grand vistas and picturesque mountains make for spectacular picture taking, resulting in memories you can enjoy for a lifetime, such as on your desktop background on the computer.

The Cascade Range is part of the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is the name given to the active tectonic edges of the Pacific Ocean Basin. All around the Pacific, tectonic activity causes subduction, when one plate is forced underneath another and driven deep into the Earth. As it descends the heat and pressure of the Earth’s interior begins to melt the plate forming liquid rock, or magma. This newly melted rock can be forced to the surface again in a line beyond the descending plate, creating a linear chain of volcanoes that parallel the tectonic margin.

That is the situation in our Pacific Northwest. Starting in Northern California with the southernmost volcano of the Cascade Range is Mt. Lassen, surrounded by gorgeous Mt. Lassen National Park. Moving north up the volcanic chain you encounter Mt. Shasta, one of the most classically shaped volcanoes.

The volcanic chain continues north through Oregon and Washington state, and on into Canada, with well known mountains such as Hood, St. Helens, Rainier, and Baker. All of these mountains have been volcanically active in the last 4,000 years, and will continue to be as long as the current plate configuration stays the same.

A fantastic trip idea is to travel through these states following the American Ring of Fire. Not only is the scenery dramatic and breathtaking, but there are interesting cultural experiences to be had along the way also. Learn about the Native American stories related to the volcanoes, enjoy fine dining in the many cities of the Northwest, and enjoy the friendly people. All of whom will be eager to share their backyard with you.  If you’re lucky you may even be able to do a spot of volcano boarding, Nicaraguan style!

For other interesting and weird facts about the Earth and science, visit

Leave A Comment...