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Nisqually River and Mount Rainier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington


Here we see much of the rock cycle in a single view. Mount Rainier, a continental stratovolcano, rises at the western margin of North America as a result of tectonic convergence with the offshore Juan de Fuca plate. Yet even as it rises, it collects snow via orographic precipitation which grows the glaciers that grind and wear it down. In the foreground, the Nisqually River carries sediments down from the melting glaciers and off the flanks of the mountain; sediment that may one day reach the trench offshore to be subducted again and renew the cycle once more.

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Taken on July 22, 2003