Hello! My name is Angie, I am a third-year student at Chico State and a Geology major. A cool thing about being a geology major is that almost every class has a field trip where you get to do a lot of hands-on learning!
Our latest class field trip (for mineralogy and lithology) was to Lassen Volcanic National Park which is just a two-hour drive from Chico. The purpose of the field trip was to check out geologically interesting places in and around the Lassen area for a weekend.
I want to share some cool spots you can visit on your own that have really unique geology.
Friday night- Butte Lake BEAUTIFUL
Length: 4 mile round trip from the Butte Lake parking area
Time: 3-4 hours
On the trail, going up to the cinder cone there are some amazing lava bed outcrops (actual name of the outcrops). In these outcrops, there are small glassy crystals or quartz xenocrysts. This is unique and not common, quartz does not usually occur in basalt.
At the top of cinder cone looking down, you can see views of green and red painted dunes. They are green and red because of either more or less iron in the sediments that compose them.
Here is a picture of cinder cone, use the bathroom before ascending because there is no cover-up there.
The tippy top is on the rim, continue on and see the cinder cone crater.
Length: 0, just pull off the side of the road that goes through the park.
Time: as much as it takes to enjoy the view
Literally jumbles of rock on the side of the road, chaos jumbles are the remnants of an avalanche. The rocks are from the domes directly across the street! Do you see the bowl-shaped indentation? That's missing rock. The jumbles jumbled so far they damned Manzanita creek and formed Manzanita lake.
Fun Fact: the degree of pointedness of the inclusions (rock of different color in other rock) tells us some range of the temperature of the inclusion when it was included. More angular- hotter, Less angular-cooler.
View from chaos jumbles looking over the road and up at the dome where the jumbles came from, that's pretty far!
Length: .5 mile round trip from the parking lot
Time: 30 minutes to read all the signs on the trail
Lots of history in one short loop features cool before and after pictures of the area.
Fun Fact: Lassen Eruption beginning in 1915 was a phreatic eruption, driven by gas but no new magma and mostly ash. Up to 200 documented phreatic eruptions were recorded, each new one bigger than the last! Until May 1915 a phreatomagmatic eruption occurred. This eruption in contrast to the others was BIG, still driven by gas, and lots and LOTS of magma.
Our trip was cut short because of THE FIRST LASSEN SNOWFALL this winter season!!
I hope you check these places out next time you happen to wander through Lassen.