(RepublicanJournal.org) – The Long Valley Caldera hasn’t erupted for an estimated 100,000 years, but some scientists warn the supervolcano could be due. Recent changes could point to activity deep underground, and researchers have been taking a closer look at the California hot spot in search of signs of growing danger. Millions could be at risk if the volcano blows.
Long Valley is home to one of the largest calderas in the world at 20 miles long and another 11 miles wide, with depths reaching 3,000 feet. It’s the source of a series of hot springs that regularly emerge and recede along the geothermal system. Locals noticed a new hot water pool recently pop up, which has concerned some, but experts say such changes occur regularly all along the creek.
The Science Channel followed an examination of the area in 2017, where geologists used a special type of imaging technology called InSAR, which uses satellites to send pulses of radar down to Earth. The resulting topography map can span large areas while detecting changes as small as 1-2 mm in the terrain, creating data points in the tens of millions. In their documentary, titled “Secrets of the Underground,” researchers reveal small pockets of liquid — likely magma — pooling beneath the caldera’s surface and pushing up the ground above them. While their presence could indicate volcanic activity, their distribution isn’t centralized, which means they aren’t building the amount of pressure necessary to cause a volcanic eruption – at least for now.
Evidence of continued activity exists all along the stretch, with geyser activity emerging in 2006 and continuing to this day. Experts have noted that an eruption in the Long Valley Caldera would be devastating, noting that its first explosion was powerful enough to send ash eight miles into the sky and rain down over 1,000 miles away. The Long Valley Caldera is less than 40 miles away from the far more famous caldera in Yellowstone.
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