The Sciences

Volcanoes From Above: Long Valley Caldera and Ubehebe Craters, California

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiJul 25, 2012 3:05 PM


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I tend to have to do a lot of flying with my job. The lack of interesting rocks nearby is one of the major problems with teaching in Ohio and being a volcanologist/petrologist. So, I trek off to the West Coast to see/analyze my rocks of choice, along with the occasional meeting or field forum. This means I get a lot of great views, because what is the point of flying if not for the views? Sure, I hear some people do prefer the aisle seats, but that is a mystery that I will never solve because I love seeing the surface of the Earth from that vantage point some 10 km / ~35,000 feet up. Anyway, on my last trip back from California, I flew from Sacramento across the Sierra Nevada to Las Vegas. It was cloudy over the Sierra, but the clouds broke as we came out on the northern end of the Owens Valley, so I snapped a few shots with my iPhone of some of the great volcanic features that I saw from the ground earlier this year in the Long Valley caldera and Death Valley. Check 'em out: Long Valley Caldera, Mammoth Mountain and Inyo Domes, California

A view of the northwestern side of the Long Valley caldera, including Mammoth Mountain and the Inyo Dome Chain. I drew in the approximate caldera edges to give you a sense of the size of the feature. Some of the caldera-filling part of the Bishop Tuff can be seen in the shot as the peach/salmon-colored material in the middle/left-hand side. Image taken July 19, 2012 by Erik Klemetti at ~33,000 feet / 10 km. Bishop Tuff in the Owens Valley, California

A view down the Owens Valley in California, with the Bishop Tuff filling much of the bottom of the valley. In some places, the Tuff reaches 200 meters in thickness, especially in the caldera and near the caldera's edge. Image taken on July 19, 2012 by Erik Klemetti at ~33,000 feet / 10 km. Ubehebe Craters, California

Ubehebe Craters, near the northern end of Death Valley National Park. I zoomed in on the craters (inset) as to show Ubehebe and Little Hebe more clearly, along with some of the lava flows that coat the valley sides to the west of Ubehebe. Image taken July 19, 2012 by Erik Klemetti from ~33,000 feet / 10 km.

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