Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Searching for the Lemurians and Atlanteans on Mt. Shasta (and finding a volcano instead)
Oh, until the volcano erupts. Then science gets real...
It's not surprising that mythology surrounds Mount Shasta. The volcano truly does command attention. At something over 14,000 feet in elevation, mantled in glaciers, and covered by vast amounts of snow in winter, it is a huge mountain that can be seen from points all over Northern California. It's the largest stratovolcano in the Cascades, and maybe even in the world.
It best imagined as a composite cone, being composed of at least four distinct cones that erupted in the last 300,000 years. The older cones have been destroyed by erosion or explosion, but the volcano reawakens after a time and produces new pyroclastic ash layers and lava flows to produce a new cones. The oldest is the Sargents Ridge Cone, followed by the Misery Hill Cone. These were followed by two very recent cones, Shastina and the Hotlum Cone, both of which formed within the last 10,000 years. The volcano is the second most active in the Cascades, behind only Mt. St. Helens. Eruptions occur every 600 years or so, with the most recent in 1786.
The value of science and geology as it applies to Mt. Shasta is that it gives us a tool for predicting the future. When we can fully understand how a volcano works and understand how it has worked in the past, we can better prepare for the future. We understand exactly what the volcano is capable of doing, and what the thousands of people who live in its shadow will need to do to survive a future eruption. And we have the monitoring equipment to catch the rise of magma beneath the volcano that would herald a new eruption (unless, of course, the equipment sits abandoned because of a government shutdown caused by politicians who don't think health care should be offered to all Americans).