USGS CalVO scientists have developed a new 3D conceptual model of the magma system below Mono Lake and Mono Craters in eastern California to give scientists a more detailed understanding of volcanic processes at depth.
3D Images of Magma Below Mono Craters Area
The technology used, magnetotellurics, measures slight electrical currents naturally created by the movement of ions in the Earth's magnetic field (like the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights). Magma chambers with liquid, melted rock, or a partially crystallized "mush," have a very low resistivity to electrical current flow.
The Mono Craters volcanic area is ranked among the nation's high threat volcanoes. Recent eruptions at Mono Craters occurred about 600 years ago at Panum Crater, and about 350 years ago on Paoha Island in the middle of Mono Lake. The accuracy and high resolution of the new three-dimensional images of the magma chambers and volcanic "plumbing" below Mono Basin give scientists a better understanding of their size, shape and where the next eruption might occur.