La Garita: History’s Most Epic Eruption

Wheeler Geologic Area

As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to have a volcano or two within exploring distance. Given that I was 8 years old and couldn’t drive, that distance was about five miles. My friends and I used to make up stories that the nearby mountains were volcanoes and could erupt at any moment just to sate our sense of adventure. As far as we knew, the only volcanoes in the United States were Yellowstone, in Hawaii, or along the West Coast. The rest of the world’s volcanoes were in far off, exotic places like Japan or Iceland. Little did we know that real volcanoes were closer to home than we ever imagined – including the most explosive and epic eruption in Earth’s history: La Garita.

The San Juan Volcanic Field

La Garita Caldera sits in the middle of Colorado’s San Juan Volcanic Field. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the volcanic field was once extremely active. Two continental plates once collided here and caused the ground to fracture and faults to form. These faults allowed heated magma from the Earth’s mantle to rise and pool in massive magma chambers beneath the crust. The results were often explosive.

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Update from Base Camp

Saying hello, wondering how you all are, and updating you on the latest happenings at Base Camp during social distancing.

Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved.

**Disclaimer: Please use extreme caution when hiking on any volcano, particularly near active lava, or eruption sites. Volcanoes are extremely unpredictable and the unexpected could be deadly. Please use safety precautions and bring the appropriate safety equipment if you venture out. Do not cross boundaries that have been established by the authorities, and if you are not sure or feel unsafe, DON’T DO IT.

10 Volcanic Activities and Boredom Busters

Woman Standing Alone On Volcano

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the world hard over the last several months. Social distancing, quarantines, and lack of food and supplies has suddenly become a real thing for all of us. And it’s something that we are all in together.  

Many of us, including myself, have been working from home for well over a week now. (Shout out to all the medical teams, law enforcement, grocers, and delivery drivers who are on the front lines trying to keep us safe, healthy, and supplied!) Kids are home from school and all activities are cancelled. It’s been creating a lot of time together in close quarters and the cabin fever is just starting.

With spring here and warm weather just around the corner, I am definitely itching to get outside and explore a volcano. With travel restrictions and many closures in place, most volcanoes in the world are currently out of reach. So how do people like you and me get our volcano fix while we’re all hanging out at home?  

Here is a list of 10 volcanic boredom busters that you (and your kids!) can do to get your volcano fix and stave off the cabin fever:

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Wild Whakaari

Whakaari volcano

It was a warm and beautiful December morning. The South Pacific’s waves reflected the vibrant blue sky and lapped steadily at the sides of the tour boats. The boats, operated by a handful of tour companies, skimmed across the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s north shore. 30 miles (48 km) offshore sat the steaming, rumbling stratovolcano known as Whakaari.

 The tours to the volcano were on time, the boats fueled, snacks provided. People packed onto the boats for their expedition to the active volcano. The visitors’ shoes crunched against the gray ash and tephra as they hiked through the volcano’s water-filled crater. Steam curled up from steep crater walls streaked white and yellow from sulfur. Hot gas roared from fumaroles like a jet engine. As the tourists began to board their boats to head back to shore, they had no idea how many lives were about to be changed. Whakaari was about to show the world just how wild she really is. 

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Should Active Volcanoes Be Banned?

Keeping a safe distance from an active volcano

Every few years, there is a volcanic eruption that takes the lives of innocent bystanders.  The loss of human life is heartbreaking. While most volcanoes show us warning signs before they erupt, it is impossible to predict the exact date and time that an eruption will occur.  The results can be tragic.  The loss of life has caused for some people to call for a ban on public access to all active volcanoes worldwide.

After the Whakaari (White Island) eruption claimed 21 lives in December 2019, the cry to ban active volcanoes from the public became louder than ever.  Advocates for the ban claim that if no one can approach an active volcano, then the death toll will be zero.  Is it possible to ban the public from all active volcanoes? Should active volcanoes be banned at all?

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Top 10 Volcanic Eruptions of 2019

Sinabung Eruption

2019 was a dynamic year in many aspects, and the volcanic world did not disappoint.  According to the Global Volcanism Program, “There were 73 confirmed eruptions at some point during 2019 from 70 different volcanoes; 30 of those were new eruptions that started during the year.”[1]

The earth is always alive with volcanic activity, and an average of 10-20 volcanoes are active and erupting at any given time on our planet.  But who were the show stoppers for 2019? 

 Here are the top 10 volcanic eruptions that left their mark on 2019:

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Merry Christmas from Base Camp

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas time at Base Camp!  The tree is glittering with a hundred sparkling lights, and ornaments that we’ve collected over the years dangle from the branches.  It’s been re-decorated, of course, by two kitties who love to tug on the gold garland and bat the ornaments around like toys.  A few presents are wrapped under the tree.  Niala loves to wiggle between them and curl up for a nap under the colorful lights.  The smell of baking pies and cookies fills the house with a cozy aroma and a fire is crackling in the fireplace.  I love the way a wood fire smells – it reminds me of the scent of flowing lava.  Snuggled up in a fluffy blanket, I’m taking a moment to reflect on this year, and the holiday season at hand.

Last January, I told a friend of mine that it felt as if I were a stone being loaded into a slingshot and that 2019 would be a wild ride.  What a year it has been!  As with every year, there have been moments of joy and of heartbreak.  We have worked hard to accomplish goals and overcome obstacles.  I think of the countless hours I spent training to recover from my knee injury last year.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?  I’m thankful for my coach who kept me on the ball and knew just what to do to get me back in shape. We’ve had the opportunity to explore several new volcanoes and celebrated the success of reaching Mount St. Helens’ summit in August.  We have met new and incredible friends through our journeys this year.  

I have enjoyed spending more time writing this year – sharing our adventures with you here on our blog and on our social media pages.  Getting to chat with some of you and swap stories has been a wonderful experience.  I am excited to see what 2020 brings.  I am certain that it will be a year full of adventures, new volcanoes, and exciting changes.  I look forward to sharing it all with you.

I wish a very happy Christmas to you and your families.  I pray that wherever you find yourself this holiday season, that you will find joy and peace in your lives.  May your New Year be full of happy surprises and wonderful adventures.  

Merry Christmas and Happy Hopping,

A Volcano’s Plea

Listen when I speak to you!
I wish to do you no harm.
Your bodies are small and fragile.
Pay attention when I sound the alarm.

I do not mind you exploring my slopes;
I even enjoy your laughs.
Humans are so fascinating
When they tread my lava paths.

A volcano must do as we are created for;
To follow our calling, you might say.
When the time comes for us to erupt, 
You must stay far away.

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5 Reasons to be Thankful for Volcanoes

Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States.  For many, it is a time to reflect on all of the things that we are thankful for in our lives, and the many blessings that we have.  No matter what the season is in one’s life, there are countless things to be thankful for and it would take far more than a single day to count them all.  How many of you added volcanoes to your list of things to be thankful for?  Here are 5 reasons we should all be thankful for the volcanoes that (literally) rock our world.  

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Haystack Rock

The Pacific Ocean is absolutely magical.  One never knows what they’ll discover on its shores or in its rich blue depths.  There is something about the steady crash of the waves against the shore that relaxes and envigorates the soul.  Our Base Camp is nowhere near the ocean, or any significant source of water, so we made tracks for the beach while we were in Oregon this summer.  We didn’t choose just any beach, however. We chose Cannon Beach, Oregon for sentimental reasons and ended up finding a volcanic treasure: Haystack Rock.

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