Now, the whole idea might freak you out (especially if you are living in southern California, what with all of those fracking operations there and all.
But thankfully, according to experts, you are not in any immediate danger. An eruption is not going to happen tomorrow. However, considering the uptick in activity, the United States Geological Society (USGS) is keeping a close eye on the supervolcano. And the USGS does state on their website that the “Threat Potential” is very high for this particular volcano. So it’s undoubtedly a good idea to monitor it and certainly learn more about it if you live in California.
What Is the Long Valley supervolcano, and why have I never heard about it?
We’ve all heard plenty about the supervolcano lying beneath Yellowstone National Park, and there have been numerous articles about the risk of that one blowing. That volcano was the star in the movie 2012 along with John Cusack, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson. Who could forget Woody Harrelson declaring from his front-row seat to the eruption as a gigantic burning rock hurls toward him, “It’s beautiful.”
Many of us though (myself included) probably do not know that much about the other major supervolcano here in the U.S., the Long Valley Caldera (or as it’s also called the Long Valley supervolcano).
The Long Valley Caldera was created from a supervolcano eruption 760,000 years ago and was about 500 times larger than the Mount St. Helen’s eruption. If the LVSV ever blew now the amount of material it would spew would be about 800 times more than the 1980 Mount St. Helen’s eruption. It would result in a considerable loss of life and widespread destruction. As I mentioned before, most experts believe that these massive eruptions are unlikely, but they monitor them closely nevertheless.
What is changing underneath the Long Valley supervolcano?
The LVSV is growing. Scientists first noticed this expansion in 1978, and it’s not stopped growing since. According to Forbes: “This gradual growing likely represents the influx of magma into the magma chamber below the supervolcano, essentially filling the tank in preparation for the next eruption.”
This video by The Science Channel does an excellent job of explaining the more technical aspects of how researchers are learning more about the Long Valley supervolcano.
The one thing that scientists are not sure though is just how much magma is actually in the tank and how rapidly it’s filling up. Recently, a new study in the journal Geology increased our knowledge of just how full the “tank” might be. The team used seismic tomography to create a sort of image map of changes in the volume of the magma reservoir.
According to Forbes: “By using a supercomputer at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the team was able to decode an image of the subsurface and map the reservoir of both solid and molten rock beneath the Long Valley supervolcano. The team found 240 cubic miles of semi-molten magma, with 27 percent in the liquid state.”
Cross-section through the Long Valley supervolcano. FLINDERS ET AL., 2018
“While the Long Valley supervolcano isn’t an immediate threat, the potential scale of an eruption urges scientists and the public to keep a close watch on the happenings around Long Valley Caldera in California.” You too can search for the status of every volcano on the planet, (including this one) for yourself here.
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Amancia E. Toole
My name is Amancia E. Toole–my friends call me ET. I own this website and its accompanying Facebook page where I encourage you to share your thoughts on my articles. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology followed by a program in Medical Technology. I’ve taken courses in Environmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and have always had a life-long interest in the environment. I recently shifted the focus of this website in order to “expand the conversation,” because I believe our planet is in crisis and so are we as a people. I now use my background in biology and in a microbiology laboratory to write and share solid science-based information about emerging research in climate disruption, the wholesale pollution of our environment and how our toxic world might be affecting our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. I also write about many of the promising advances in the area of human health and longevity.
I hope to slow the spread of misinformation on dubious sites making wild conspiracy story claims that add to the very real risks of mounting, global antibiotic resistance, and the possibility of emerging epidemics and pandemics due to propaganda that encourages misunderstandings surrounding vaccines, environmental toxins, and chemicals that are food.
It’s also my hope is to inspire anyone who visits my website and Facebook pages to learn and to take control of your destiny by making small changes to your lifestyle so that it’s a more sustainable and happy life: start by learning to grow a small garden or walk and bike a little more for your local errands. Or maybe, stop using plastic altogether and shop locally to help support small farmers. There’s also a lot of intriguing new research that supports the idea that a plant-based diet might help you, as well as our planet, live a longer, healthier life so give that a try to see if that works for you. Most importantly, I believe we all have the power to save our planet, to live longer and healthier lives and to be more kind to one another.