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Rare Summer Avalanche Caught on Video

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A spectacular summer avalanche was caught on video at Washington's Mount Rainier on June 25.

The amateur footage was posted on YouTube and shows how the mountain's pristine snow-capped peaks can turn dangerous in mere moments. Falling ice and rocks kicked up a massive plume of dust and debris that captivated those watching.

The avalanche occurred on the mountain's Nisqually Glacier, which has seen a series of amazing rockfalls in recent days, the Seattle Times reported. No one has been hurt.

"From my standpoint of looking at the mountain for 20 years, we've probably had rockfalls like this once every five or 10 years," Stefan Lofgren, lead climbing ranger for Mount Rainier National Park, told the Seattle Times.

The Nisqually Glacier is not a common hiking route up the mountain, one of the world's talles t, and rangers are stressing that it should be avoided this summer.

The footage appears to show evidence of brown lahar-like debris, showing how dangerous volcanoes can be, even when they are dormant. Lahar is an Indonesian word for a rapidly flowing mixture of rock debris and water that originates on the slopes of a volcano. Lahars are also called volcanic mudflows or debris flows. Mount Rainier has a long history of lahars, according to the Big Think's Eruptions blog.

"Usually flows like this are caused by heavy rains or melting, which prompts the collection and then release of water high on the slopes of the volcano," wrote the blog's author, geologist Erik Klemetti. "Rainier is also a very unstable volcano as much of the summit area has been extensively hydrothermally altered, so it is not surprising to see lahars and avalanches such as these on the volcano.

Live Science Staff
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