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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tracking the Long Valley Caldera

While Hollywood plays to Super-Volcano fears, the real danger comes from their less-flashy cousins

A little more than two years ago I wrote an article for the website Plan And Prep. Called "The Sevens," it discusses why 'prepping' for a Yellowstone eruption is silly at best, and wasteful at worst.

The reason why is based on... well, reason. While there are more viable threats for which we CAN prepare, nearly all accounts agree that Yellowstone would be an "Extinction Level Event" [ELE]; 'extinction' means 'gone,' which negates the notion of 'survival.'

Directly below is an abridged snippet of that piece; to read a complete, fleshed-out, and recently updated version of the article on my Medium blog GO HERE...

The “extinction’ part of ELE is very much a non-starter. In fretting over Yellowstone, however, we lose sight of the volcanoes we CAN survive… the ones about which we should be preparing.

As the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) gives us a category 8, it also provides us with a category 7. These volcanoes are called Ultra-Plinians, and while the name doesn’t have the Hollywood punch of ‘super’ volcano, they are real, they are deadly, and – most importantly – they are very much survivable.

Ultra-Plinians are basically scaled-back versions of their more terrifying super-cousins. While a major eruption from one of these will not completely end our time on this planet, it would certainly challenge even the best of preppers; imagine then, how one would affect those unprepared?

For example, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was a VEI 7 event. Beginning with a massive blast on April 10th of that year, it, “was followed by between six months and three years of increased steaming and small phreatic eruptions. The eruption column lowered global temperatures, and some experts believe this led to global cooling and worldwide harvest failures." [Wikipedia: August 2013]

There are 11 of these potential hot-spots, with all but two experiencing activity in 2013. They are scattered all over the planet, one of which – California’s Long Valley Caldera – being situated right here in our own proverbial backyard.

Long Valley... yes, this one concerns me greatly, especially living in the United States. In May, 1980, the caldera was rocked with a swarm of earthquakes, including four which were above 6.0 on the Richter scale. This caused a 10-inch, dome-shaped rise of the cauldron floor, and kicked off a spate of geological activity which continues to this very day.

This is why, when eyes are cast at global threats from volcanoes, my optics always land on California. It is geographically the closest and the most active VEI 7 at the moment, with (at least according to some accounts) a major eruption considered inevitable.

If we get hit with a Yellowstone event we are cooked. If Long Valley pops off, however, we will survive it... but the ugly which will come with said-survival will be most unpleasant.

Note: For the daily @TheApocalyst Twitter-tracking of the Long Valley Caldera I utilize the USGS page for the area. My observations are based on subjective interpretations of the data available, and are not scientific absolutes. Bear this in mind when considering said-observations.

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In Depth

Tracking the Long Valley Caldera

While Hollywood plays to Super-Volcano fears, the real danger comes from their less-flashy cousins

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