Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mono Lake Earthquake Swarm Ends

There has been no renewed activity at Mono Lake since the last post. The swarm at this time appears to be over. If the area does have some more earthquakes, they will likely be small and shallow (~5km) and become less frequent. This could have been magma dike intrusion, or even cryptodome intrusion, as the area does have a history of that. However given the seismographs I've reviewed in comparison to past tectonic events, this event was likely purely tectonic/structural and will likely not result in any eruptive activity.

Mono Lake has not had an explosive eruptive event in human history, but has a rather unique geological past. The last activity to occur in the area resulted int he intrusion of a rhyolitic cryptodome, which in turn created some hydrothermal activity resulting in the extrusion of the famed tufa towers. The lake has since been of particular interest to astrobiologists (those that study the biology of potentially extraterrestrial life forms) due to the presence of bacteria that thrive on the element arsenic.

The area is an extension (as some claim) of the Long Valley Caldera, a dormant supervolcano (similar to Yellowstone) that has experienced long periods of uplift and subsidence since the 1970's. Long Valley Caldera is monitored by the USGS at the Long Valley Observatory (http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/lvo/) but the observatory does not often keep up to date with Mono Lake. 

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