Southwest slopes of Mount Rainier as viewed from Iron Mountain. Photo taken over benchmark at 6,283 feet elevation, at northernmost end of summit of Iron Mountain, on rock outcrop above high cliff. South Tahoma Glacier is on the left. Point Success (14,150 feet) is the visible high point on the right.
The potential hazards posed by Mount Rainier led to its inclusion as one of sixteen volcanoes worldwide to be designated Decade Volcanoes. The Decade Volcano initiative is part of a United Nations program aimed at better utilizing science and emergency management to reduce the severity of natural disasters. The Decade Volcanoes are the focus of coordinated earth -science studies and land-use planning to learn the best ways to reduce the risks to life and property from volcano-related hazards. Products from Decade Volcano studies at Mount Rainier will include updated maps showing the areas and levels of hazards, maps showing the locations and ages of Rainier's lavas and debris flow deposits, and reports on the style and size of selected eruptions and on the structure and makeup of the rocks forming Mount Rainier and its underpinnings.
From 1986 through 1992, the South Tahoma Glacier released a total of 15 outburst floods, including at least one every year. These outburst floods occurred during periods of unusually hot or rainy weather in summer or early autumn, and were apparently caused by rapid input of meltwater or rainwater to the base of the glacier. The exact timing of such outburst floods is unpredictable, however.