Upper Klamath Lake: A Geological Legacy

Upper Klamath Lake is the only place on earth where Aphanizomenon flosaquae (AFA) grows abundant enough to harvest. The wild proliferation of this amazing, nutrient-rich superfood, can only be attributed to the area’s unique climate and geological history, and the lake’s expansive surface area and shallow depth.

If not for the formation of Crater Lake more than 7000 years ago–the volcanic eruption of 12,000-foot-tall Mt. Mazama which left the entire Klamath Basin blanketed in tons of pyroclastic nutrients–the massive annual blooms of AFA may not have been possible. Without the 500 inches of snow that fall each year at Crater Lake and the nearly 300 days of sunshine gracing the high desert of South-central Oregon annually, a scenario by which this natural bounty of algae has flourished may have never occurred.

Crater Lake, Oregon’s only National Park, is a huge draw for Klamath County. While people are in the area visiting the park–to the tune of 500,000 a year–they take time out to visit some of the other destinations Klamath Basin has to offer.

Discovered and rediscovered by accident in the mid-1800s after several groups of hunters, explorers, and prospectors wandered upon the lake, Crater Lake’s history amongst indigenous groups goes back thousands of years.

Ancient tools of Native Americans have been discovered under the volcanic ash from Mt. Mazama’s eruption and elders of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes still pass down stories of the geologic event which literally and figuratively helped shape the land and the history of this area of Oregon.

If you’re interested in visiting the Klamath Basin and learning more about the incredible ecosystem in southern Oregon register for New Earth University, Klamath Falls. Find out more about our next event at events.newearth.com.