Daily Archives: June 15, 2021

New Mexico’s Supervolcano

The Valles Caldera is Only Dormant

By G G Collins (Copyright 2021)

Excerpt from Anasazi Medium, Chapter 8

Yellowstone isn’t the only supervolcano in the United States. The Valles Caldera is located in northern New Mexico in close proximity to the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and the Rio Grande. An eruption from the dormant, but not extinct, volcano could cause significant interruptions to life or extinguish life depending on the force of the eruption. Some of you will recognize the Valles Caldera as the location of the Longmire sheriff’s ranch.

Images, except the above, are from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science.

We pick up with an interview which journalist Rachel Blackstone is having with character Professor Axel Saxon at the University of New Mexico, Earth and Planetary Science. We join them with the interview already in progress.

“How dangerous is the Valles Caldera?” Rachel asked.

“It is considered a young supervolcano in that it erupted 1.25 million years ago. It’s geothermal and responsible for the hot springs that populate the area. We also know it is dormant, not extinct. The caldera is about 20 kilometres or 13 miles wide. A supervolcano isn’t one eruption, but multiple eruptions occurring at once. When the volcanic pressure cooker just can’t take anymore and it releases pent up energy in many places.”

He showed Rachel another map showing the resurgent lava dome, called Redondo Peak, and the smaller domes around it.

“If it were to erupt again,” Rachel asked. “What force are we talking about?”

“Supervolcanoes have an eruption of magnitude eight,” Saxon paused. “That’s the largest on the VEI or Volcanic Explosivity Index.”

“So this type of eruption really isn’t within our experience in the near past?” Rachel asked.

“No. You’ve heard of Pinatubo, Krakatau and a U.S. volcano called Mount St. Helens?”

Rachel nodded.

“These are inconsequential by comparison to the Valles Caldera. Even Crater Lake and Tambora are smaller. Only the Yellowstone supervolcano is larger.”

“Are you aware that the last time the Yellowstone erupted that ash and dead animal bones were found as far away as Nebraska? The three Yellowstone eruptions we know about produced enough ash to fill the Grand Canyon and were 2500 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Today, if Yellowstone went off it would immediately kill 90,000 people. Those not dead would be standing calf-deep in ash. The nuclear winter to follow could cause famine as the great breadbasket of the world, the States, would likely not be able to grow much.”

“What would the results be of a Valles Caldera eruption?” Rachel asked.

“First there would be the ash fallout to consider. Not only would any planes in the area be at risk of losing engine performance and therefore crash, but water contamination could result and rooftop collapse. That is especially a problem for flat roofs that can be found all over our area, but especially prominent in Santa Fe due to the Pueblo architecture.

Tent Rocks (Kasha-Katuwe) was created with volcanic ash fallout, perhaps 1/4 mile thick. Enough to have cooked a moderate-sized city.

“Agriculture would be adversely affected, maybe not even possible. Livestock would become ill and die from breathing the ash and gases.

“People would also experience health issues and some, maybe many, would die. It would depend on the size of the eruption.

Notice the proximity of Los Alamos (LANL) to the Valles Caldera.

“We don’t even know how it would affect power-producing plants. And yes, we don’t know if the damage to the LANL would be sufficient to release plutonium and other nuclear materials into the air. If so, that could be cataclysmic in terms of loss of life.

“As to the influence on the country and the world; again, depending on the size of eruption, it could bring about the nuclear winter where ash would block the sun and make agriculture impossible. And this brings me to the most lasting product of supervolcanoes: worldwide famine, millions—maybe billions—of refugees, satellite disruption and the crash of world financial markets.”

“Good god,” Rachel said. “All because a New Mexico volcano wakes up.”

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Thanks for reading.

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