Skip to comments.Are the Yellowstone and Long Valley Calderas About to Blow?
Posted on 03/13/2011 1:24:04 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
As good a read as it is throughout, Lawrence Joseph's book, Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization's End devotes a spine-tingling chapter to two ticking bombs in our own backyard Yellowstone National Park and California's Long Valley Caldera. Both locations are home to massive supervolcanoes. Geologists say these submerged magma chambers fill up over the course of several hundred thousand years, then shoot their wads skyward in climate-changing events. And both are due for their periodic eruption.
The last supervolcano to erupt on the planet was Mount Toba in Sumatra 74,000 years ago. Incredibly, both Yellowstone and Long Valley are considered a thousand times more explosive than Toba. A major blast would produce a lava field extending at least four hundred miles to the south and east. Moreover, the accompanying ash cloud may blanket much of the world for months, if not years. That would trigger worldwide crop failures and radically alter weather patterns.
Between January 17 and February 11, 2010, Yellowstone experienced its second largest swarm of earthquakes on record. Some of the over 1,800 tremors included two measuring 3.7 and 3.8 on the Richter Scale, with a total of 14 at 3.0 or more in magnitude. (For comparison, a 5.1 earthquake accompanied the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption.)
The previous year, a similar earthquake swarm occurred at the same location. In both cases, no evacuation orders or volcano warnings were issued. The U.S. Geological Suvey insists the latest activity was concentrated along known faultlines, with no direct connection to the caldera. Regardless, scientists continue to monitor more than two dozen seismograph stations. They also routinely sample sulphur and carbon dioxide levels at geysers and other hot spots around the park. Tilt meters have been installed to measure deformity of the land as the magma chamber inches slowly toward the surface.
To put the situation in context, a typical, cone-shaped stratovolcano gets its magma from seawater melting rocks along subterrainean subduction zones (i.e. where tectonic plates collide). However, the Yellowstone and Long Valley Calderas are thought to get their magma directly from the Earth's molten mantle via a "plume". This chimney-like shaft climbs to the surface through many miles of the crust. In the 1990's, satellite imaging revealed that both supervolcanoes were packing far more firepower than previously estimated.
In Yellowstone's case, the caldera is about three times the size of Manhattan. British geologist Bill McGuire first sounded the alarm publicly in a 2005 documentary produced by the BBC in London. That's when the USGS set up its 26 seismic stations, which are monitored by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory in Utah. Even so, some experts question the equipment's ability to forecast an eruption in sufficient time to evacuate people for hundreds of miles.
In Apocalypse 2012, Joseph interviews University of Utah geologist Robert B. Smith, who has studied the Yellowstone caldera for decades. Paraphrasing the scientist, Joseph writes, "This supervolcano's topographical distortion is so pronounced that Yellowstone Lake, which sits atop the caldera, is now actually tilting because of the bulge. Water is draining out at the south end, inundating trees that just a few years earlier grew normally out of the soil along the shore".
According to the BBC documentary, a key indicator of magma pushing towards the surface would be an increase in the number and frequency of earthquakes above the chamber. Environmental activists also remain wary about continued oil drilling in areas adjacent to the park. Over 5,000 wells have been drilled to date, with another 10,000 approved during the course the Bush Administration, Joseph reports.
In California, the Long Valley Caldera was hit by a series of strong quakes in the late 1970's. "Unrest in the area persists today," the USGS explains in a fact sheet, with frequent earthquakes occurring in the 1.0 to 3.0 range. The supervolcano last blew its top 760,000 years ago, and the lava flow covered 1,500 square miles. Today you can find massive amounts of pumice and obsidian fused together in the area of the blast, along with cinder cones, craters and a resurgent dome. The caldera is located near Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake, less than 20 miles from Yosemite.
In 1980, the Mammoth Lakes ski resort area was temporarily evacuated when four strong quakes struck in a vertical series, suggesting magma might be plowing toward the surface. However, no eruption followed, leading the local chamber of commerce to file a lawsuit over the loss of tourism revenues. Although the businessmen lost in court, it remains to be seen whether USGS officials will continue to err on the side of caution if the same scenario unfolds again.
According to a fact sheet on the Long Valley Caldera, "High concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in soil gas are killing trees on the flanks of Mammoth Mountain. First noted in 1990, the areas of tree kill now total 170 acres in six general areas, including Horseshoe Lake on the south side of Mammoth Mountain. The soil gas there is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2." As a result, overnight camping is no longer permitted.
As if two supervolcanoes werent enough to keep westerners on their toes, there are a few others. The 175-square-mile Valles Caldera near Santa Fe, New Mexico, had its last big bang over a million years ago, sending ash as far as Iowa. Meanwhile, Idaho is home to two calderas along the Snake River Plain, known as Island Park and La Garita.
Volcano Survival 101 While lava and mud flows (called lahars) present life-threatening risks with any volcano, less talked about are the fast-moving pyroclastic flows. These dark plumes combine hot gases and solids heated to 1,300 degrees, moving at breakneck speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour across land and water. Nothing can outrun them, so the best evasive action is to get underground. In addition, river valleys and canyons provide a natural highway for mud flows, as evidenced in the dramatic footage of the Mt. Saint Helen's blast in 1980. Climbing up in elevation is critical to surviving these flows.
To predict the volatility of a typical cone-shaped, stratovolcano, geologists keep tabs on "lava bombs" thrown out from the spout in recent weeks or months. If the hardened rock is a dark color, the threat is considered much less than if it were whitish. When the volcano is spewing lava, its viscosity (thickness) offers another tell-tale clue about the disaster that may lie ahead. Runny lava, for instance, is common to Hawaiian volcanoes and indicates that the magma below the surface has a relatively easy time rising to the surface. Conversely, when the lava is thick like peanut butter -- volcanologists call it "blocky lava" -- it suggests that the lava inside the mountaing is getting plugged up near the surface. When such intense pressure reaches critical mass, the volcano will erupt in a huge, Krakatoa-like blast, hurling ash and gases for tens of miles in every direction.
Other threats associated with volcanoes (both super and strato) include inhaling high concentrations of sulphuric acid and carbon dioxide. While the smell the sulphur is easily detectable, CO2 is an odorless gas. Less lethal but still worrisome, volcanic ash spreading across hundreds of miles can disrupt vehicle operation and cause respiratory problems. More than three or four inches of wet ash accumulation on a roof of a house or other small building may also be sufficient to cause its collapse.
Always be ready to meet your Maker.
Time to run away I say, let the Moslims and south of the border conquistas have it.
They want America so much let them deal with it.
If its going to happen there is nothing mortal man can do to stop it, best to just get away from it.
Yes. They need to release some pressure there. Let the lave flow instead of explode. I have to think engineers can figure this out.
Cue the movies with the subsurface boring machines and super nuke bombs.
You know in all honesty I actually would have to admit some group of scientists could conceivably have a device that would stop such an eruption, like a small black hole, it draws the pressure off like lancing a boil.
I do not know about Long Valley, but I DO keep a close watch for any info on Yellowstone activity.
An eruption of that caldera could pretty much end America as we know it, but Obambie is just as bad.
With the Marxist in charge, America may be gone by 2012.
My other area of interest is the New Madrid fault, as it runs through former home location (Memphis).
One thing that really troubles me is that the more recent tall buildings (1960+)are all concrete, with no structural steel.
Remember, the last big earthquake (1812) caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards.
Here is an interesting site, http://newmadridearthquake.com/
They have posted info on the Japan quake.
Its been speculated that an increase of drilling around Arkansas has increased earthquake activity, kinda makes me wonder if Obamabie is pushing for an excessive amount of drilling there around the New Madrid Fault so as to make it happen.
I have absolutely no doubts he wants panic, ruin, desperation, hopelessness just so he can strut in and become the Messiah.
why not something more akin to lancing an infection.
Someone should write a script about this, they find that the Yellowstone Caldera will indeed erupt, much larger than on the movie 2012, scientists try boring holes and using nukes, doesn’t work, only creates a bunch of earthquakes.
They even whip out a super secret Tesla designed earthquake machine hoping to then stop the earthquakes, no dice.
And then somebody comes up with creating an artificial black hole, that draws everything including light away and off into some point in time and space. So the black hole goes off and basically takes a huge chunk of America out and we now have an inland sea, but no more treat of a Super volcano.
Life on Gods little green earth is very fragile.
Somebody -a normally intelligent and sober person- laid that line on me on Friday. I responded with a brief explanation of plate tectonics and subduction zones and closed with 'it would have happened even if Man had never existed'.
He didn't seem comfortable with that, but declined to pursue the discussion further.
I haven’t done much drinking in the past few years. Maybe its time to stock up on some booze.
Yes, it always has been fragile and always will be fragile, regardless man's arrogance.
Dude, you need to copy-write that concept. Sounds like a good movie.
If I’d had a moment to think about it, I would have furrowed my brow, put on my serious face, and said, “You’re right. Geo-science is all bunk. We need to throw some virgins into volcanoes to placate the Earth”.
We are scrod. Virgins are scarce as hens teeth hereabouts.
Might could be we could substitute kittens or something.
Can't we all just get along?
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