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3D Images of Magma Below Mono Craters Area

November 4, 2015

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.

Conceptual geologic model of partially crystallized magma (C1, C3) ...
C1 and C3 are granitic crystal-melt mush (partially crystallized magma) columns that fed the most recent Mono Craters eruptions. The connection from C1 to South Coulée (SC) is older and colder than the connection from C3 to North Coulée (NC) and Panum Crater (PC), which carries hydrothermal fluid to the surface. C2 depicts a fracture network containing fluids of metamorphic or magmatic origin. R1 is a resistive cold pluton, or body of granitic rocks, that crops out at the surface at Aeolian Buttes. Black dashed lines are modeled faults (LVF = Lee Vining fault and ISF = Indian Springs fault).

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.

Read the press release or the full research study

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