Nature Notes

Volume IV No. 3 - September, 1931

Glaciation of Mount Mazama
By Dr. W. R. Atwood of Education Division, N. P. S.

In the past two issues of Nature Notes the Park Naturalist made reference to recent discoveries of carbonized wood in the vicinity of the Rogue River, west of the park. The logs which were found buried beneath layers of pumice were completely changed to charcoal. The discovery was of special significance for it aided the geologist in interpreting the history of Mount Mazama and Crater Lake.

This first discovery caused considerable excitement at the lake and the naturalists were anxious to locate similar deposits within the park boundaries. Their hopes were fulfilled on August 20, when during a geological investigation of Pumice Point a layer of soil was found buried deep beneath the loose pumice and containing numerous fragments of carbonized wood. This discovery inside of the rim of Crater Lake, directly across from the Sinnott Memorial, proved to be of still greater significance than the first one, for associated with the soil and pumice material was found evidence of repeated glaciation.

If we could picture the landscape in this region as it appeared some twenty or thirty thousand years ago we would see Mount Mazama a volcanic mountain covered with glaciers. It probably resembled Mount Hood and Mount Rainier as we know them today. The glaciers which occupied the valleys of this former mountain left the material marked "First Glacial Deposits" in the accompanying diagram. Suddenly, while glaciers still existed on the mountain, the volcano erupted and covered the glaciers with pumice and lava. This caused the ice to melt, but soon now glaciers grew and moved slowly down the slopes of Mount Mazama. This second group of glaciers left the material marked "Second Glacial Deposits" on the diagram. They also left glacial scratches or striae on the lava beneath. This time the glaciers were not immediately covered by pumice, but considerable time elapsed during which a layer of soil was formed and vegetation flourished on the slopes of the mountain. This is proven by the presence of carbonized plant remains in the soil layer indicated in the accompanying diagram. Again history repeated itself and Mazama erupted to cover this soil and vegetation with thick deposits of pumice. Glaciation occurred once again and possibly still a fourth time as is indicated by glacial material interbedded with the pumice and volcanic ash.

Thus, from the little section exhibited on Pumice Point, the geologist may read a portion of the story of Mount Mazama. The rocks are as leaves in a great book which records the history of our earth. Sometime perhaps we will locate all the pages of this geologic time table and be able to read more perfectly the romance of Mount Mazama and Crater Lake.

An Ode To Mazama
By William Alexander Godward

The following poem was written by William Alexander Godward of Sonoma, California. Mr. Godward has so effectively told the story of old Mount Mazama that we are printing it in Nature Notes.


He stood upon the world's most western rim,
A giant taller than his giant kind.
To north or south no titan equaled him
In youthful grandeur and sky-towering mind.
Below him gazed bright Shasta in the blue,
Who turned to him a wonder-beaming eye.
Mazama felt her presence smiling through
The deepening shadows of the evening sky;
But he had caught the gleam of a pale maid
Who beckoned him out of the early dawn,
With witchery so daring, yet afraid,
As once she beckoned charmed Endymion
To follow her into a world of dreams;
To walk with her beside supernal streams.

Night after night through all the circling years
Mazama reached and longed for that slim form,
In summer stillness and in winter storm,
Which lured and beckoned him with hopes and fears.
Within, Mazama glowed and burned with fire,
Outpouring all his ardent soul in vain,
To the green levels of the wondering plain
In rolling streams of scoriac desire
When spent, at last, with heaven-seeking quest,
Mazama bent his frame, now rent and scarred.

The skies consenting to his rash behest
Gave the bold titan more than love's reward;
For Joys more dear, they give, and sweeter far
Than any titan's dreams of maiden are.

Thus, as Mazama lay in ashes cold,
And While his giant grave was hollowed deep,
The brooding skies their precious drops would weep
Till it was filled with waters manifold.
In this clear lake whose deepest blue could hold
Undimmed her white resplendent maidenhood,
Revealing her in many a lovely mood,
Diana visits him in spirit bold.

She strains the colors of the sun's broad glare
To make a harmony of blended light;
She shows him forms more exquisitely fair
Than naiads limned in the charmed groves of night.
Such loveliness enchants his every sense,
As only goddess gives in recompense.

For round the sapphire of this cratered sea
Forests had spread their deep mysterious shade.
Hemlocks and firs made many a wildering glade
That rang with songs of birds in harmony.
Clear waterfalls sang out in noisy glee
And raced through darkened caverns unafraid
To rest again in welcoming arcade
All floored in ferns and walled in wizardry.
And where the waters through the wooded rim
Of this sky-fostered lake find secret way,
There all the rarest blossoms in array
Put on their gayest hues to pleasure him.
Thus every charm of forest, flower, and stream
Were woven by Dian in Mazama's dream.

There columbine rears towers white and red;
There monkshood spreads its canopies of blue;
Anemones and hellebore and rue
Still grieve for hapless lovers long since dead.
The gaudy fireweed tosses flaming head
To dance in careless glee the long day through
Beside the meek-eyed violets still true
To the bold titan in his flowery bed.
Here mimulus, Like Dian, in the shade
Reveals her purple loveliness unveiled;
The rosy orchid, queen of beauty hailed,
Stands gleaming, glowing like a gracious maid,
With humbler flowers delicately sweet
Bowing and blushing at her very feet.

Mazama sleeps in this enchanted spot.
What cares he how the endless cycles run,
Or for repeating orbits of the sun?
For time and fickle change disturb him not.
No longer rolls the lava seething hot;
No longer burns his heart for triumphs won,
Nor tells his weary soul when day is done
Tomorrow will with victory be fraught.
Beyond the heat of youthful hopes and fears
He sleeps and dreams the dream of cosmic peace,
Unmindful how hot torrents sought release
With vulcan rendings through volcanic years.
Long may his sleep be free from past alarms;
Awake him not from Dian's deepening charms.

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