First Stop: Deep Moss

7,700 years ago: Mount Mazama, in what is now southern Oregon, erupts. It collapses in on itself, forming a deep crater which fills with melted snow over the next 600-800 years. Crater Lake, the seventh-deepest (592m) lake in the world, is born. It is a nutrient-poor lake with no inlets or outlets, preventing particulate matter from shading the depths below.

6,000 years ago (?): The lake becomes home to Drepanocladus aduncus, a species of freshwater moss which, thanks to the availability of sunlight in the lake, was able to establish itself nearly 600 feet below the lake’s surface.

4,000 years ago: Mazama erupts again, forming lava features such as Wizard Island. Wizard Island in turn has a crater upon it, giving us a “crater on an island in a lake in a crater.

106+ years ago: A single hemlock tree falls into the lake, where it continues to float, upright and with its root system submerged, to this day. It is dubbed “The Old Man of the Lake.”

106 years ago: Crater Lake National Park is established, making it National Park #7.

70 years ago: A scientific survey is undertaken to plot the windblown movements of The Old Man. It is noted that, atop the four-foot bleached-white column of his stump that sits above water, there lives a small patch of moss.

20 years ago: A one-manned submersible brings up some Drepanocladus from the not-so-murky depths.

2 years ago: Robot subs conduct further research on the interesting bryophyte.

2 days from now: Me, walking around on Wizard island, giggling about how the world’s oldest group of terrestrial photosynthesizers has one of its members lounging around under 600 feet of melted snow in the bottom of a dormant volcano, which itself resides within 183,224 acres of federally protected parkland … parkland found in a state which has voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1988. I think I’ll enjoy living in Oregon.


Old-timey geologic survey map from here.


1 comment so far

  1. Carathustra on

    Under the weight of your posts, resistance has become futile. And so i’ll be packing up and moving to your area sometime next year, along with some fish and shrimp and skinny goof-dog, and sundry other accoutrements to daily happiness.

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