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7 Active Volcanoes in California You Should Know About

Volcanoes are one of the unique parts of the earth. If you're a California resident, you may know a few volcanoes such as Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, Brushy Butte, Twin Buttes, Pisgah Crater, and Medicine Lake.

While volcanoes are fascinating to learn about, the hazards they pose are a part of life for many Californians. Seismologists have found that there are at least seven active volcanoes around California. They may not physically show signs of activity, but that's typical for volcanoes. They lie dormant for years and suddenly erupt without warning. Fortunately, seismologists and other scientists ensure that they study these volcanoes to prepare Californians when the time comes.

Explore our list of the top 7 active volcanoes in California...

1. Medicine Lake Volcano

You can find the Medicine Lake Volcano in the northeastern part of California, about 30 miles northeast of Mount Shasta, another active volcano. The volcano has an elevation of 7,795 feet, and the lava inside is around 140 cubic miles in volume. It is known as the largest volcano in terms of volume in the Cascade Range. You can also find the Lava Beds National Monument on the northeast side of the volcano.

This volcano has been active for 500,000 years, and people who live in the vicinity have felt a few eruptions comparable to the very infamous Mount St. Helens that had basaltic lava coating the sides of the volcano. Medicine Lake is also part of the caldera, which is a bowl-shaped depression in the mountain. Seismologists found the volcano unique because it has several small magma chambers instead of a single, large one.

2. Mount Shasta Volcano

Mount Shasta is another "potentially" active volcano situated at the southern end of the Cascade Range. You can say that Medicine Lake and Mount Shasta are neighboring volcanoes. With an approximate elevation of 14,179 feet, this volcano is ranked second in peak elevation in the Cascade Range. Researchers also ranked it as the fifth in the state. It also has a lava volume of 5 cubic miles, about half of the Medicine Lake volcano.

Mount Shasta connects to a satellite cone, which is Shastina. Together, they form most of the landscape that you see around the Cascade Range. If you plan on checking the mountain, you need to visit it on a clear winter day from the Central Valley floor, 140 miles down south.

3. Lassen Volcanic Center

You can visit the Lassen Volcanic Center in Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is about 55 miles east of Redding. Hundreds of explosive eruptions happened within 850,000 years due to the vents spread over 200 miles. The volcano also has an elevation of 3,187 miles, making it a great tourist attraction. At least 350,000 people visit the Lassen Volcanic Center each year because of its unique volcanic landscapes.

The area around the Lassen Volcanic Center has had fifty non-explosive eruptions within the last 100,000 years and has been mostly dormant for the last 25,000 years. However, there are three exempted eruptions; the Chaos Crags eruption that happened 1,100 years ago, the Cinder Cone eruption in 1666 A.D., and the Lassen Peak eruption from 1914 to 1917 A.D.

4. Clear Lake Volcanic Field

The fourth active volcano on this list is the Clear Lake Volcanic Field. It is set about 90 miles north of San Francisco, precisely beside Clear Lake in California's northern Coast Ranges. It also has an elevation of 1,439, making it the volcano with the lowest elevation out of the other three mentioned above. The volcano's key point is that it has 43,000 acres of freshwater, which gives the volcano its name.

You can check out the Geysers steam field, which you can locate at the region's southwest margin. It can generate enough energy to power 850,000 homes since it has very productive geothermal power plants. The most recent eruption recorded in the Clear Lake Volcanic Field happened about 11,000 years ago near Mount Konocti. While it has laid dormant for several millennia, seismologists managed to detect sporadic earthquakes due to the volcano. They also found numerous volcanic gas and hot springs located within the area, giving seismologists the conclusion that it may erupt again.

5. Long Valley Volcanic Region

What's worse than having one volcano? Two volcanoes! When you visit the Long Valley Volcanic Region, you can spot the Long Valley Caldera and the Mono-Inyo Craters that form a large volcanic complex around eastern California. It was also the cause of considerable earthquake activity and ground uplift in the last decades.

The volcanoes' floor elevation ranges between 6,500 to 8,500 feet, which is close to the Medicine Lake Volcano. Seismologists estimate that the next eruption will be smaller and similar to the past eruptions that happened along the Mono-Inyo volcanic chain within the last 5,000 years.

6. Coso Volcanic Field

If you like looking at hot springs, you should check out the Coso Volcanic Field located about 100 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California, within the boundary of the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake. It covers roughly 150 miles of land and houses one of the largest energy-producing geothermal power plants in the United States. The power plant has a power output that can supply at least 270,000 homes.

The Coso Volcanic Field also has hot springs, boiling mud pots, and steam vents near the volcano center. Seismologists recorded at least 40 eruptions within the last quarter-million years. It also produced red hills of volcanic cinder, a field of steep-sided lava domes, and rough-surfaced lava flows. Seismologists also recorded small to moderate earthquakes because of the geothermal resource.

7. Salton Buttes

Finally, you have the seventh active volcano, or volcanoes, which is the Salton Buttes. It is a series of volcanoes on the Salton Sea in California. The Salton Buttes have a 4.3 mile-long row of five lava domes, which researchers named North Red Hill, Mullet Island, Rock Hill, South Red Hill, and Obsidian Butte. Seismologists even found evidence of buried volcanoes underneath the land.

Many eruptions happened 400,000 years ago until it became dormant about 18,000 years ago. The most recent eruption took place 1,800 years ago that started explosively, then slowly progressed into dense, glass-looking lava domes. As always, the United States used the Salton Buttes to gather geothermal power that currently generates power for 325,000 homes. There isn't enough available data for seismologists to figure out the volcanic activity's pattern, but there's still a possibility of future eruptions.

Whenever you take a trip to see these volcanoes, you may see some buildings beside them, like the Lava Beds National Monument. You can find some of these buildings have certain features like fire rated access doors. This one feature is critical whenever a building fire happens because it protects the building utilities from getting damaged from the fire. If you have construction projects that need fire rated access doors, make sure to contact California Access Doors.

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