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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Big Obsidian Flow Tour, Newberry Caldera in Central Oregon:


Monday, August 23, 2010


Here is a view of the Big Obsidian Flow from Paulina Lake:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews


On Saturday morning, I joined forces with the hiking ladies next door.  We went on a guided tour of the Big Obsidian flow, which is only about 1/2 mile down the road from our camp.  It was so interesting and a lot of fun.


Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Me, getting ready for the tour.


Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Amanda, ready to hit the trail.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Up the hill we go.  Only 3/4 of a mile and no dogs are allowed.


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Wow.  That is only a small portion of the obsidian.   
 

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

The above three photos are of  Lost Lake, which is located at the base of the flow.  It is filled with snow-melt, and during very hot summers it disappears and becomes lost, hence its name.  In late August, frogs hatch in the lake and they climb up and live on the Obsidian Flow.  We did not see any frogs, so they probably have not hatched yet.  We have had a cool summer and it got here late.


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 These non-slip metal stairs take us up the trail.


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
This is Ilana, our tour guide.  Ilana is an intern for the U.S. Forest Service.  She is a biology and geology major from Santa Rosa, California.  Ilana knows her stuff and did a great job showing us around.  Our group consisted of the hiking ladies, a couple from Eugene and me.

Stop #1: 

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Ilana told us that we were at the fifth largest obsidian flow in the world.  There are around 20 of them all together.  Ilana began her talk by telling us about the Native Americans who used to populate this part of Central Oregon; mainly the Shoshone and Northern Paiutes.  We learned that the first house ever found in America was found in the Newberry Caldera.  It was a preserved 10,000 year old wickiup, made from lodgepole pine and covered with woven grass and reeds.  There were tools and food still inside.  The original was taken to a museum somewhere, and the spot was paved over, but there is a replica of the wickiup at the visitors center.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Obsidian is much better to work with than flint when making tools, and it is much more rare.  You can more or less control the way that obsidian will break, and therefore it is preferred for making tools, arrowheads, spear-tips, and other items.  It is breaks in ripples and is very, very sharp. 

The Northern Paiutes became a wealthy tribe due to their access to this obsidian flow.  They were seasonal visitors, coming when the snow melted and hunting elk and rabbits. The Northern Paiutes gathering up obsidian at this flow and the six other flows in this area around the ring of fire.  They would trade the obsidian at festivals, and some of the obsidian from this flow has been found in Montana and other states.  

Stop #2:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews



Obsidian is actually made of the same elements of glass, and believe it or not, so is pumice.  The difference between obsidian and pumice is their density.  When these types of volcano's erupt (shield volcanos), the pumice comes out first because it is lighter and then the obsidian comes out next.  This happens in waves and they jumble together.  As this mixture comes out, it is thicker than toothpaste and as it flows, it cools and breaks.


The Newberry shield volcano is very broad but is not very tall.  The other kind of volcanoes, like Mt. St. Helens, are composites.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Ilana told us that this obsidian flow is the 5th largest in the world and came to be only 1300 years ago, the last time this volcano erupted.  It is 1.1 square miles and 150' deep.  There is enough obsidian here to make a 24' wide highway that would go 3 1/2 times around the world! 

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Ellen asks Ilana a question, while Marilyn and Jan watch.


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Amanda, Ruth and Jan continue on with the hike.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Looking down at Lost Lake.

Stop #3:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
We learned more about Native American tool making.


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
The red in this piece of obsidian is actually rust.  Obsidian contains iron, and will rust just like anything else made out of iron, under the right conditions.

There is another obsidian flow in Oregon near Silver Lake/Christmas Valley called Glass Butte Glass Butte, Oregon.  The obsidian there has all different colors running through it, according to Ilana, red, yellow, blue, etc.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Stop #4:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Obsidian is also used for jewelry and surgical tools.  Dr. Donald Crabtree invented obsidian scalpels that work well for eye and lung surgery. 

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Stop #5:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews


 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Some of the few trees that live there are very old.  They remind me of Bonsai trees; all twisted and small.  Not only are they nutrient deprived, they have hot summers and are covered with deep snow in the winters.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Stop #6:

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Not too much lives in this obsidian flow, but some things do.  A few trees, frogs, lichen, birds and some insects.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
View of Paulina Lake, with Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
View of Paulina Peak

9 comments:

  1. That was SO cool! Reminds me of my geology class in college and looking for and digging for certain types of rocks. That was a fun class. I would have enjoyed this trip.

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  2. Wow! You Live In A Beautiful Part Of The World.Thank You For Sharing These Wonderful Photos.

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  3. Amazing tour. Obsidian is so beautiful when it's polished.

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  4. Wow, thats a lovely trail, would surely love to go all the way up.

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  5. this is such an educational entry. I enjoyed the trip too :)

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  6. I have spent a lot of time in this area, Sunriver specifically. So I also had a great day exploring the obsidian flow up at Lake Paulina. Such a beautiful area! Thank you for the memories and great pictures and story of your day!
    Have a fabulous day!
    Debbie's Travels

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  7. Wonderful shots of the place. The landscape is beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your outstanding tips!! Are you currently a member on twitter at all? Will give you a tweet through my account right now

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