Lassen Volcanic National Park Marks Centennial of 1914-1917 Eruptions


Today marks the 110th anniversary of the eruption of Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park. On May 30, 1914, Lassen Peak awoke from a 27,000-year-long slumber with a steam explosion. Over the next three years, the volcano continued to erupt, with its events documented and popularized by the northern California media.

The following year, On May 14, 1915, glowing blocks of lava became visible from Manton, 20 miles west. By the following day, a dome of dacite lava had filled the crater at Lassen Peak’s summit.

The greatest climactic event occurred on May 22 of that year, around 4:00 PM, when Lassen Peak exploded, creating a larger and deeper crater near the summit. A column of volcanic ash and gas rose over 30,000 feet into the air, visible from Eureka, 150 miles away. A pyroclastic flow devastated an area of 3 square miles, transforming into a destructive mudflow of melted snow mixed with the volcanic ash that rushed 15 miles down Lost Creek to Old Station, causing extensive flooding.

Susanville native Jeff Jameson shared stories from his grandfather, recounting how the sky darkened as if it was a night with word that the blanket extended as far away as Elko, Nevada.

While Lassen Peak sleeps today, active steam vents, hot springs, and bubbling mudpots remain in the park. The US Geological Survey California Volcano Observatory operates a sensor network to detect any signs of the volcano awakening, noting that it only remains a matter of time with almost certainty that the Lassen area will experience volcanic eruptions again.


Photo from historical Fact sheets from the US Geological Survey