WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- While California anticipates the ‘big one’ that is expected to occur within the century, it should also prepare for a possible volcanic eruption within 30 years.
- Eight volcanoes spread within California that range from moderate to very high risk include Salton Buttes, Long Valley Volcanic Region, and others.
- Volcanoes cause extensive damages and its after-effects last for decades.
As California prepares for the ‘big one’ — an earthquake with a power scale of magnitude 6.7 or greater that will hit the state within the century, there’s another deadly threat that people may be less likely ready for.
According to a Monday report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a prediction based on 5,000 years of volcanic activity records says a region in California is at 16 percent risk of having a small to a moderate-sized volcanic eruption within 30 years. Whereas, California’s ‘big one’, also known as an earthquake at the San Andreas Fault has a 22 percent likelihood that it will take place within that time frame.
Experts say there are eight volcanic areas, 7 of which are considered ‘active’, throughout the state. These are Mount Shasta, Medicine Lake volcano and Lassen Volcanic Center in Northern California. Also included is high to very high-risk areas of Salton Buttes near the southern border which erupted within the last 3,000 years.
Although the Long Valley Volcanic Region in the east has erupted during that time, it is considered moderate to high risk. As for the Clear Lake Volcanic Field north of San Francisco, although it hasn’t erupted within the past 3 millennia, it is still noted as high to very high risk.
According to the report, volcanoes can cause damage, whether erupting or not. Even when not currently erupting, the grounds surrounding the volcano can be unstable and may cause landslides. On the other hand, erupting volcanoes cause showers of rocks and fast-moving currents of lava called pyroclastic flows, and acid rain. Floods and ash fall can reach as far as 80 and 1,600 kilometers away, respectively.
Additionally, natural resources and infrastructure essential to our water, power, and transportation systems statewide can be unfavorably impacted. Especially the fact that as the intensity of the eruption decreases and increases over time, so will its after-effects which can last for years or even decades, wrote the researchers.
Although volcanic eruptions cannot be stopped, they can be predicted. The report cites GPS receivers being used by the USGS California Volcano Observatory to document ground deformations as well as seismometers to measure shaking, and gas emission detection with spectrometers. Any increase in activity among the three measurements may indicate an eruption.
Moreover, limiting exposure and enhancing tolerance can also make society less susceptible to the effects. Measures may include evacuating hazard areas during an eruption, building more resistant infrastructure and cleaning up after the event. During ash fall, people can wear specific masks, avoid driving, and sealing off buildings and shelters.
Source: Fox News