Northern California February 10, 2017
Most People Don’t Know There Are 4 Active Volcanoes Right Here In Northern California
We see plenty of forces of nature here in Northern California from earthquakes to flooding to wildfires. But did you know that we can add four active volcanoes to that list? They are located in the lower Cascades and all the way down into Lake County. You might be surprised by some of the familiar landmarks listed below that are actually volcanic areas.
These four volcanoes are part of the Ring of Fire, a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where the world's largest number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. It's a direct result of plate tectonics.
Regardless of the science behind them, Northern California's volcanoes are closely monitored. While these 4 are like sleeping giants and officially called dormant, that doesn't mean they will always be that way.
1. Mount Shasta
One of the most prominent and easily recognizable volcanoes in this region is, of course, Mount Shasta.
The volcanic beauty stands at an elevation of 14,179 feet, making it the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California. It's distinctive shape and size is a direct result of the volcanic activity far below the surface of the earth. The last eruption happened in 1786.
2. Mount Lassen
This historic photograph shows the volcano a few hours prior to second major eruption and hot blast that occurred in 1915. It rises to 10,457 above sea level and is the southern most volcano in the cascades.
Lassen Peak and Mount St. Helens in Washington state were the only two volcanoes in the contiguous United States to erupt during the 20th century. Lassen Volcanic National Park was created in Tehama County, California, to preserve the devastated areas as they were, for future observation and study, and to preserve the nearby volcanic features.
3. Clear Lake Volcanic Field
The Clear Lake volcano is much different than Shasta and Lassen. Rather than being a single peak, it is a the volcanic field that consists of lava domes, cinder cones, and maars with eruptive products. Here you can see Mount Konocti, one of the two highest peaks in the volcanic field, from the lake.
The other prominent peak is Cobb Mountain. The field's magma chamber also powers a geothermal field called The Geysers, which hosts the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the world. These can generate approximately 2000 megawatts, enough to power two cities the size of San Francisco.
4. Medicine Lake Volcano
Probably the least well known thanks to it's remote location, the Medicine Lake Volcano is also the most unique. It's erruptions are gentle rather than explosive and the last confirmed one happened over 1,000 years ago. It is thought that this is because it has many small magma chambers rather than one large one.
The nearby Lava Beds National Monument offers the amazing experience of exploring old lava tubes. Caves like this one were formed by lava that still flowed beneath a cooled surface. It's a must see for anyone fascinated by the science of volcanoes.
The definition of a volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object (like the earth) that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. We’ve been living among these dormant but active volcanoes and now that you know the truth, do you look at these familiar landmarks differently?