Crater Lake and Volcanoes

Southern Oregon holds many treasures, one of them being Crater Lake. The deepest lake in the world, it formed as a result of the eruption of the volcano Mount Mazama. The Klamath tribe, which was in the region during the eruption, describes the historic eruption in a legend, which you can read below. After reading the legend, recreate the eruption with your own volcano eruption!

Crater Lake with Wizard Island
Photo by: K. Bradley

The spirits of the Earth and sky often came and talked with the people. Llao was the spirit of the Below-World who lived beneath  Mount Mazama. Skell was the spirit of the Above-World. Llao often came up and stood on top of Mount Mazama, and his head would touch the stars near the home of Skell. There was no lake then, just a hole through which Llao passed to see the outside world. One day, Llao saw Loha, daughter of the Klamath Indian chief, and fell in love with her beauty. She rejected him because he was ugly and was from the Below-World. He got angry and swore that he would take revenge on her people. He tried to destroy the people with the curse of fire.

The Klamath Indian chief sought help from Skell. Skell descended from the sky to the top of Mount Shasta. Skell and Llao were thundering and trembling the Earth, hurling red hot rocks back and forth to each other from Mount Shasta to Mount Mazama, causing great landslides. A terrible darkness spread over the area for days. All spirits of Earth and sky took part in this battle, creating intense fear among the people. Attempting to calm the ferocious volcano gods and to make up for the sins of the tribe, two medicine men offered to sacrifice themselves and jumped into the pit of Below-World.

Impressed by their heroic sacrifice, Skell fought even harder. He finally defeated Llao, driving Llao deep down into the Below-World. He collapsed the top of Mount Mazama to imprison Llao forever beneath the world. Skell wanted peace and tranquility to cover up this dark pit, so he filled it with the beautiful blue water.

To make your volcano, you need:

  • 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda


  1. You will also need 1 empty 25oz. plastic bottle.
  2. Build a mound of dirt up around the bottle, keeping the top open.
  3. Combine the soap and food coloring in the bottle.
  4. Add vinegar and pour in water almost to the top.
  5. Here’s the amazing part! — In a large spoon blend the baking soda with a little tap water to moisten it and then quickly pour into the bottle.
  6. The contents will erupt out of the bottle just like a volcano.

Check out some awesome pictures from National Geographic of volcanoes around the world here:

Background information on volcanoes:

Volcanoes are awesome manifestations of the fiery power contained deep within the Earth. These formations are essentially vents on the Earth’s surface where molten rock, debris, and gases from the planet’s interior are emitted.

When thick magma and large amounts of gas build up under the surface, eruptions can be explosive, expelling lava, rocks and ash into the air. Less gas and more viscous magma usually mean a less dramatic eruption, often causing streams of lava to ooze from the vent.

The mountain-like mounds that we associate with volcanoes are what remain after the material spewed during eruptions has collected and hardened around the vent. This can happen over a period of weeks or many millions of years.

Volcanoes tend to exist along the edges between tectonic plates, massive rock slabs that make up Earth’s surface. About 90 percent of all volcanoes exist within the Ring of Fire along the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

About 1,900 volcanoes on Earth are considered active, meaning they show some level of activity and are likely to explode again. Many other volcanoes are dormant, showing no current signs of exploding but likely to become active at some point in the future. Others are considered extinct.


For more awesome facts on volcanoes, check out the following USGS site, which includes a whole section on the volcanoes of the Cascade Range:

Cascade Volcanoes


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