Wednesday, October 30, 2013
That Volcano is Dead Right? There's No More Hot Magma? Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mt. Tehama is long gone, and Lassen Peak blew off all her accumulated stresses and frustrations with the eruption in 194-17, right? I mean, it's all a national park now, and that means it's like an amusement park and the park service would never allow the volcano to go erupting on all the tourists, right?
Actually, the Lassen Volcanic Center is on the short list of the most likely sites of volcanic activity in California, according the the California Volcano Observatory. And there is plenty of evidence that hot magma still lurks beneath the surface in the national park: there are five active geothermal areas in the park boundaries.
Castle Crags, Mt. Shasta, Lava Beds National Monument, Medicine Lake Highland, and McArthur-Burney Falls, as well as Chaos Crags, Lassen Peak, and Mt. Tehama in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our destination was Bumpass Hell, at the end of a spectacular 1-1/2 mile hike.
The black sludge in the picture below is made of finely divided particles of iron pyrite (fool's gold). That might be counter-intuitive given the familiar brassy luster of the mineral, but geology lab students will recall that the streak (color of the powder of a mineral) is black.
I'll be watching. And when everyone else is running away from the eruption, me and lots of other geologists will be trying to get closer!
I hope you've enjoyed this little vignette on the Cascades of Northern California. Look for an exploration of the central coast of California next!