Eruptions


Outcrops of Obsidian Butte, California, near the Salton Sea.

A brief update on the two earthquake swarms making news right now:

Yellowstone
The earthquake swarm at Yellowstone is still rumbling along, reaching over 1,000 earthquakes measured over the last week. However, the swarm has begun to die down overnight – with no earthquakes between 10:41 PM (MST) on 1/22 and 6 AM on 1/23. However, although this is a longer, bigger swarm than normal, it still isn’t out of the regular rumblings at Yellowstone caldera. The USGS continues to say this swarm is tectonic, rather than magmatic or hydrothermal.

Bombay Beach/Obsidian Butte, California
Another swarm that readers have pointed out is occurring at the south end of the Salton Sea in California. This should seem familiar as another swarm occurred there last year. This current swarm is occurring almost directly underneath Obsidian Butte – a favorite location for earthquake swarms in the area. Obsidian Butte is part of the Salton Buttes, a series of rhyolite domes that are ~16,000 years old. This area is a geothermal energy producer and there is extensive faulting as well, so more than likely, these earthquakes are tectonic or geothermal.

Comments

  1. #1 Diane
    January 23, 2010

    Hey! What’s this thing about girls liking swarms of things, eh?!

    Thanks for posting that picture of the Salton Sea area, Erik. I have not been down there so I had no idea what it looked like.

    I just checked the quake map for CA and that area is calming down a bit, as is the swarm up in the Owens Valley area.

    There is a new one in the area of Mammoth that is a 1.0mag. The ones they have there are not very big, but every so often they occur. I am not sure how many are below the mountain, but there are some.

    BTW, Erik, we had 3-4″ of snow out here and the electricity went off at 2am. Fun starting a generator when it is snowing. :-\

  2. #2 Erik Klemetti
    January 23, 2010

    The title of the post is a slightly doctored reference to one of my all-time favorite shows, Futurama:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6AYf-lwdkk

    Good stuff.

  3. #3 mots137
    January 23, 2010

    well at 65 i hardly qualify for girl but swarms of ‘things’
    are usually not well accepted…….. as in swarms of mice/bugs/bees/dustbunnies; however flowers are nice. ;)
    Best!(and glad to see You like Futurama too) motsfo

  4. #4 Diane
    January 23, 2010

    I’ll take the parrot! LOL I don’t mind lizzards, but 500?!

    @motsfo, at 60, I don’t qualify as a girl either, and I agree with you; swarms of flowers are nice, especially wildflowers in a large field.

    Well, the quake swarms are interesting, too. I like a bit of a rock and roll once in a while. Just so it doesn’t hurt anybody and destroy property.

    Say, have any of you heard the blubbering ol’ Ego Chavez has been touting? He thinks the US caused the Haiti quake as a test so the gov. can do it over in Iran. My DH did mining and also did some blasting and he said it would take a huge explosion to set off a quake. He also told me that there is a truck called a thumper and it has about 2200 liters of mercury in it. They had one on the Garlock fault testing for oil and some USGS guys came over and told them to get it out of there because they were certain it could set off a 5-6 quake. They figured that with the stresses on the fault it could set one off. I doubt it could set off one the size of Haiti’s.

    Does anybody know about thumper trucks and whether they can set off a large quake? As for Chavez, he can go fly a kite in a thunderstorm.

    Cheers.

  5. #5 Passerby
    January 24, 2010

    I commented elsewhere on this blog that the Hamlem’uma’u vent was showing increased lava activity last night.

    The second vent system, Pu’u O’o is also showing strong eruption activity this morning.

    Something big is up at Kilauea.

  6. #6 EKoh
    January 24, 2010

    Do any readers know if there is a correlation between activity at the geothermal plant (water re-injection, extra withdrawal) and the Salton swarms?

  7. #7 Diane
    January 24, 2010

    @Ekoh,

    If you are referring to the geothermal plant in N CA, no. I know of the geothermal field under the area of the Salton. I don’t know of a geothermal plant near the Salton Sea, but if there is one, it could have something to do with it.

    BTW, there is a geothermal plant right by I80 somewhere between Lovelock and Winnemucca. I don’t think they reinject the water because I have not seen a swarm in that area. However, there are a lot of large pipes and you can see the steam comming out of the fumerols in the area. I have been by there many times, even before they put that plant there and I never saw any steam coming out of the ground until the plant was built. It is on the right side of the road and when you look to the left, it is almost as if you are looking at a caldera. It’s what they call a playa, or ancient lake bed. I still think it is a caldera, but I don’t know that much about the geology of Nevada except there was a lot of volcanic activity there.

    I hope I have answered your question correctly. If not, somebody will set it straight. :-)

  8. #8 George
    January 24, 2010

    I have passed that geothermal field in Nevada several times. It is quite spectacular in winter to see all that steam.

    There is a lot of natural geothermal activity there, such as Fly hot springs:

    http://www.worldculturepictorial.com/images/content/fly-geyser.jpg

    Note: Fly is on private property and is not open to the public.

  9. #9 Diane
    January 24, 2010

    @ George,
    The Fly geyser reminds me of one my DH told me about where a guy back in the depession drilled for some reason and hot water came out of the pipe and it is still going. The travertine has built up all around the pipe and below it. I haven’t seen this yet, but I want to. It is in the western part of the Black Rock Desert. Is the Fly geyser part of that geothermal field by I80?

    Has anyone been to the geyser just out of St. Helena, CA? I think I mentioned it before and it is a nice geyser to see as you can get very close to it and by that I mean about 20′. There is grass growing around it and picnic tables. Fish are in the pond that surrounds the geyser. Neat place.

  10. #10 George
    January 24, 2010

    Diane, Fly might well be the one you are thinking of, it is near the Black Rock Desert at Hualapai Flat but one you are thinking about *might* also be Trego hot springs which is right on the edge of the Black Rock Desert just a little ways outside of Gerlach. You can reach it by 4WD on Jungo Road along the railroad tracks but it is a really rough ride.

    Both were created by human digging. More info on Fly here:

    http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/geothermal/site.php?sid=Fly%20Ranch

  11. #11 Fitz
    January 24, 2010

    Chavez trying to connect American oil exploration/CIA earthquake weapons with Haiti and later Iran is brilliant propoganda. Eventually Iran will have a big quake and he’ll take credit for warning them. He should warn Japan and Turkey too.

    They had an earthquake swarm near Denver while back. They spent a billion dollars or so putting some big Federal Bldg on teflon, then found out that the quakes stopped once they quit injecting water under Rocky Flat Nuke Plant.

    Theres a slow swarm just E of Oklahoma City, probably from oil drilling subsidance, I hope.

  12. #12 bruce stout
    January 25, 2010

    For everyone that wonders what the interaction looks like when a magma chamber cracks the overlying bedrock as it slowly ascends, check at Callan Bentley’s blog showing some brilliant examples of stoping (scroll down to the bottom of the page). I wonder what size quake stoping would generate?

    http://nvcc.edu/home/cbentley/geoblog/2010/01/torres-del-paine-day-6-part-ii.html

  13. #13 Sightseer
    January 25, 2010

    I am sure glad to hear they are calming. I am going through there in July on a motorcycle on my way to Glacier. A quake would be a bad thing!

  14. #14 Diane
    January 25, 2010

    George, the geyser my DH told me about it probably the one on Jungo Rd. I have been on parts of that road, but it was out of Winnemucca which isn’t too bad, even if I did get two flat tires from that road! That was a trip with a club I belong to that likes to go prospecting. Gas prices have kept us from going over there for a few years now. I do want to see that one travertine fountain.

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