Fieldwork "Fun" Has Begun

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Summer has arrived, and for many CalVO scientists, so has the season of fieldwork. During the fall, winter and spring, many of California's volcanoes are covered with snow, and challenging weather conditions make fieldwork difficult and time consuming.

However, from May through October, warmer weather with minimal precipitation make it easier for scientists to access most of the volcanic places that are inaccessible during the rest of the year. Plans this season include spending weeks in the Long Valley Caldera mapping the geology; traveling around the state to collect hydrothermal water samples and service volcano monitoring equipment; and climbing the flanks of many volcanoes to collect rock and gas samples.

Scientists recently returned from climbing up to about 14,000 feet of elevation to the summit of Mount Shasta where they collected gas samples and temperature data. They used vacuum-sealed glass bottles to collect the gas samples then carefully packaged the bottles and carried them down the mountain. The volcanic gas samples contained in the bottles were taken back to the lab at CalVO to be analyzed.

Each sample must have less than 1% air contamination in order for it to be a good sample to use for analysis of the volcanic gases. Fortunately, one of the samples collected had no detectable (less than 0.01%) air contamination, so it was a great sample to measure—the climb up Mount Shasta and back down again was a success! We're looking forward to other successful fieldwork throughout this season.

View of a snow-covered Mount Shasta, California, photo taken in Jun...

The photo was taken from a vantage looking up Avalanche Gulch at Red Banks (a line of cliffs along the ridge central to the photograph).

(Credit: Wilkinson, Stuart. Public domain.)