Wednesday, June 13, 2012

California's super volcano

Long Valley caldera GIS database

'via Blog this'

The massive Long Valley caldera volcano is located about two hours south of where I grew up in Reno, and not far from Mono Lake, Yosemite National Park, and Mammoth Mountain. It's a fascinating place to wander around and see the formations of heat-fused ash and other scars that hint at the enormous scale of an eruption that buried much of the Southwestern US under silicate ash 750,000 years ago.

Welded ash formation from the Long Valley caldera's VEI7-scale eruption. USGS photo, pubic domain, via USGS.

USGS image, public domain, via Wikipedia 


Bishop (Long Valley caldera) and Yellowstone ashbeds, USGS public domain image, via USGS

Part of the reason I'm so fascinated with these large "super volcano" calderas is the sheer scale of these monsters and their potential for rapid, global climate change. Another is the apparent role they've played in human development: from the Toba eruption that may have given rise to the first racial groups among bands of survivors isolated for hundreds or thousands of years, to the Campi Felgrei event that may have killed much of Europe's neanderthal population and cleared the way for Homo sapiens to dominate that continent. 

That role in shaping humankind is one I'm very anxious to get back to addressing in my novel Ashlands--a Great American, Post-Yellowstone road trip novel set around the year 2050. A raft of other projects has pushed that one back repeatedly over the past year. 

No comments: