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Environment

This Volcano Near Fresno Once Packed A Mammoth Punch

inyo_craters.jpg
USGS photo
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The Inyo Craters are part of the Long Valley Caldera in Eastern California

The recent images from Hawaii of the eruption of the Kilauea volcano have been captivating.  But closer to home, a much larger eruption once took place not that far from Fresno. Some 765,000 years ago - the blink of an eye in geologic time - a volcanic eruption created the Long Valley Caldera near present day Mammoth Lakes and forever transformed the eastern Sierra landscape. It's just 76 miles from Fresno, and it created a caldera 20 miles long and ten miles wide. While no eruptions are anticipated in the area anytime soon, Mammoth is still a hotbed for geologic activity. To get a better idea of what happened at Long Valley, we spoke with University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor Brad Singer, who is the co-author of a recent paper about the eruption. He joined us on Valley Edition to describe what we know about this ancient eruption and about the area today.