Earth’s subterranean pulse runs strong beneath Lassen Volcanic National Park. Looming over the landscape is Lassen Peak, the world’s largest plug volcano. Around this southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range seethes a garden of geothermal curiosities—bubbling mud pots, steaming sulfur vents, and boiling hot springs—plus three more types of volcanoes.
Over the past three million years, the Lassen Volcanic Center has spewed gouts of hot ash, superheated gases, pumice, and other pyroclastic materials across the region. Bare cinders and lava rocks blanket entire hillsides today.
Snowmelt from Mount Lassen feeds lakes, streams, and wet meadows from the four watersheds that thread through the park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park lies at the intersection of three great biological provinces: the Cascade Range to the north, the Sierra Nevada to the south, and the Great Basin to the east. The park’s geographical location, together with the its 5,000-foot elevation range and variety of soils, supports a rich variety of animals and plants. These range from thermophilic algae and bacteria that tint the hot springs lurid hues, to the whitebark pines and Clark’s nutcrackers of the alpine zone. One of North America’s most endangered mammals, the Sierra Nevada fox, also occurs here.
Lassen Field Station is a partnership between Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Natural Reserve System. The field station links researchers and classes with the spectacular volcanic landscapes of the Lassen region. The park is surrounded by a vast area of National Forest, which also hosts active research and management programs. The field station is the only outpost of the Natural Reserve System in far northern California. Researchers and instructors can work with UC Davis and National Park Service staff to tailor the logistics of their visits and ensure conformation with application and permitting requirements.
Researchers have nearly unlimited opportunities to share their work with audiences such as park resource staff and public visitors. Citizen science projects are underway in the area around the main visitor center. Local schools also integrate the park into their curricula, offering pathways for researchers to reach K-12 audiences.
- Local adaptation of Streptanthus tortuosus across elevational and latitudinal gradients
- Investigations of prebiotic analogue conditions for the origin of life
- Surveys of fish in lakes and streams of the Park