Fish Canyon Tuff

Exploring another volcanology topic today. The Fish Canyon Tuff.

This, like yesterday’s post, is about a very specific volcanic occurrence, not a broad topic. Tuff, for those non-geologically inclined, is a type of rock that is formed by volcanic ash as it compacts and welds itself together as it is very hot (you know, having come from a volcano).

The significance of this in Fish Canyon is that there is a lot of it. So much of it, in fact, that if you measure it, look at it’s composition and infer what kind of eruption produced it, you end up with one of the largest, most confidently estimated, eruptions in the history of the Earth.

The Fish Canyon Tuff is the result of a supervolcano that formed a massive caldera near La Garita, Colorado around 28 million years ago. A caldera forms after certain types of eruption occur. The ground rises because of the eruption and then collapses upon itself after the eruption is finished leaving a large depression. Here is a cool animation I found on Wikipedia showing off how it works.

To deposit the amount of tuff it did, the eruption would’ve had to been a supermassive, explosive eruption… and it was. The energy released for this eruption is estimated to be the most energetic event on Earth since the asteroid that struck the Earth leading to the K/T extinction occurred 65 million years ago.

Another cool topic, but I’m not sure it’s for me. I WAS thinking supervolcanos when I first learned of the paper, but some of the other topics look a little more promising. Either way, it would be a cool looking place to visit.

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