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A Supervolcano's Ancient Secrets Revealed
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Long Valley Caldera
A Supervolcano's Ancient Secrets Revealed

Searing ash rained from the skies, blanketing half the United States. The sun was erased behind dense black smoke and hot lava oozed across hundreds of miles of forests and fields.

It might have occurred more than 760,000 years ago, but the eruption of one of the country’s only “supervolcanoes” still has researchers and the public riveted.

Using a new technique developed at Rensselaer, a team of researchers has now determined that there was a massive injection of hot magma underneath the surface of what is now the Long Valley Caldera in California some time within 100 years of this gigantic volcano’s eruption. The findings suggest that this introduction of hot melt led to the immense eruption that formed one of the world’s largest volcanic craters.

The research, which is featured in the March 2007 edition of the journal Geology, sheds light on what causes these large-scale, explosive eruptions, according to David Wark, research professor of earth and environmental sciences and lead author of the paper.

Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

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