20 March 2012

Eruption column in Owens Valley :)

Posted by Callan Bentley

I’ve been showing a lot of photos lately from my field course’s trip up into the White Mountains. While we were driving up the road from Westgard Pass to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, we saw something interesting going on in the southern Owens Valley. Take a look at this view to the southwest, from the overlook:

See it, way there in the distance, but between the photographer’s vantage point and the Sierra Nevada? Let’s zoom in:

Whoa – a little mushroom cloud!

We knew that the Owens Valley has been the site of plenty of recent volcanism, including the catastrophic eruption of Long Valley Caldera that resulted in the deposition of the Bishop Tuff 760,000 years ago. Our imaginations were fired up! We wondered if we were looking down at a new plume of ash shooting skyward from a volcanic vent between Big Pine and Independence. I had cell phone reception, so I checked Twitter, and saw that Erik Klemetti hadn’t posted anything about any eruption in California, and therefore it must not be an eruption (because Erik would totally be on top of that, right?). So we inferred it was probably just a fire.

Oh well. …Cool anyhow.