Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Salton Buttes Volcano Vents

Here is a part of our visit to Salton Buttes Volcano, and some mud and volcanic gas ejecting vents. These vents are amazing in person, a bit scary, and one must be very careful around them, and know what they doing. I came upon a pair of sneakers with the soles totally melted. This is an active volcano with hot stuff coming out of it.

It was very hot there, and stinky as heck! Not a good place for a picnic, that's for sure. It's surrounded by very bleak desert, and it's next to the strange Salton Sea, a giant salty lake with a weird history to it, This is an area of salt flats, ghost towns, agriculture, hot springs, rocky mountains and sand dunes. Humorously put, going out there is like a day long safari into the Empty Quarter! Or like going out into the Twilight Zone...

There is a 20 mile long Magma chamber 4 to 6 miles under the Salton Sea, along with many other magma chambers and volcanic plumbing throughout the Salton Through. Right below these vents, is a magma pipe about a mile underground. This volcano is partially buried by about 4000 feet or more of sediments. In some places that sedimentary rock can be much deeper.

This is a very complex geologic area, for it is within a rifting zone, which is an area of crustal spreading, and where that connects with the 700 mile long strike-slip transform fault, the San Andreas fault. This volcano is a part of a 7000 mile long mid-oceanic, crust forming ridge - that happens to be on land.

I filmed this in black and white just to play out how unusual this place is. The actual colors in the tend to be grey tone desert scape anyways, so you not missing much color.

So yesterday, we had a little bit of an adventure and a lot of fun!

Another Visit to the Salton Buttes Volcano

Today I revisited the Salton Buttes Volcano, near the Salton Sea, in Imperial Country, CA. I got a lot of footage and stills of it today. I last visited it this volcano in Feb., and I feel that on this visit today, it was a bit more active. It was really tossing hot mud with frequency, and made various hissing sounds. One volcanic vent sounded as if it was breathing. It was awesome to hear. While we were there, I could smell the usual smells. that of hydrocarbons, but I could also smell what resembled the smell of matches. A kind of burning smell.

It was 110 degrees F there today, and it seemed a bit humid by the volcano, while it felt dry in other parts of the desert. One fellow on this trip wondered if we were seeing a plume as we approached the volcano, still a distance away. We concluded that it was more than likely an agricultural burn off. The volcano hasn't been known to steam off.

This trip was a combo of catching more footage for my documentary California Zipper, a documentary about the rifting zone in California - and taking an earthquake researcher to this site. The research is on the dramatically increase of earthquakes on the Ring of Fire, and increasing sink holes though out the world. This volcano sits by the San Andreas fault, and is a part of the Ring of Fire. Like I say all the time, it is a part of the Mid-Pacific Rift.

Here is an article from San Diego about the Salton Buttes Volcano, and it's potential for an eruption. This is a very good article that tells of how a large earthquake along the San Andreas fault could kick off an eruption. The next article is along the same lines, and tells more of the kind of damage that could be done.



Monday, June 27, 2011

Rifting Zone and Crack in the Earth. New Ocean forming in Africa

This video shows a young rift in Africa, which over the next few million years will be a young narrow ocean. This closely illustrates similar dynamics with the Forming Eastern California Rift. The Sea of Cortez, a narrow finger of ocean that lies between Baja California and mainland Mexico, to the south of USA's California, is a young sea and a rifting zone. Like I've said many times, that rift actually extends north into the Imperial Valley, the Salton Trough, near Palm Springs, CA - on north through the Owen Valley and further. I believe that the young volcano system and parallel faulting in California's Joshua Tree National Park is a part of that rifting system, but one that has been twisted to form a west-east orientation instead of a north-south orientation that the rest of the rift has. Why the twist? My guesswork, and this is a guess at this point in time, is due to the lock up of the San Andreas strike slip transform fault. Anyways, gotta get to sleep, for I may have to get up early to go to the Salton Buttes volcano. She kicked off a 3.0 mag and some other smaller quakes less than 24 hours ago. The waveforms on the seismograph look like normal cracking, you know tectonics, and not volcanic harmonics. Still checking that baby out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

San Andreas Fault Rocks and Young Volcanism and Basalt Near Palm Springs

These rocks are right on the Mission Creek strand of the San Andreas Fault, a few miles east of the town of Desert Hot Springs, CA, within the Mission Creek Reserve. This is a mile or so along the reserve road, once you pass the gate into the reserve, and at the first oasis. This outcropping of typical San Andreas' highly deformed rock, except for the darker basalt that is also present here, which is not typical of the San Andreas fault system this far north. This is a unique area where the big strike slip transform fault, San Andreas, borders a complex geologic area that includes the young volcano and basalt system associated with the Joshua Tree National Park's parallel faulting. This parallel faulting and basalt within Joshua Tree, to the east of Mission Creek, is typical of a rifting zone, where the crust is spreading. I would need to study more before I conclude that Joshua Tree NP sits on a rifting zone. But it appears to be after a glance at a geological map, and after a few hikes. The location in these photos are a few miles from a point along the San Andreas where it is "locked up", meaning that it has not had a significant earthquake for a long time, and that it has changed course earby, making a bend - and where it is pushing up 11,000 foot mountains!

Although it hard to see the reddish basalt volcanic rock in this photograph, if you look hard, you can see it. It's the light magenta area of profound erosion. It's the darker area just below the wire. If you visit the site, you can really see the volcanic red pumice like rock and basalt. The colors of the rock are seen with the human eye more than with an average camera and lens. At the time of this photograph, I was with young children, and didn't want to take them in tow across the desert brush to take a closer look. I am going back, though, and studying this young volcanic system.

This picture better shows a light band, and then below blackish volcanic basalt. This is a bowl like formation that requires more study indeed!

For fun, go into Google Earth, type in 'Mission Creek Reserve, CA' and explore the oasis and formations in the area. Click on the blue photo icons and look at the photos. Then wonder to the west and look at White Water, and then to the east to look at Joshua Tree National Park. Next, Google 'White Tank granite', read, then Google 'young volcanos, Joshua Tree National Park' and read up on that. That should keep you curious and amazed for a few hours. And then physically come on out and Visit Joshua Tree National Park, and it's surrounding reserves! The desert is amazing, with it's bare naked rocks!