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Oregon volcano to be monitored

Newberry Caldera, with Paulina Lake, East Lake, and Big Obsidian Flow.
by Staff Writers
Bend, Ore. (UPI) Apr 5, 2011
The U.S. Geological Survey says it wants to monitor a volcano in Eastern Oregon to record any future rumblings of activity as soon as possible.

The Newberry volcano, about 20 miles southeast of Bend, will get eight seismic and GPS monitoring stations under a USGS proposal, the East Oregonian reported Wednesday.

"We're doing this on Newberry because it's a potentially active volcano," John Ewert at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., said.

"And as far as volcanoes go, it's one that, were it to reactivate, we'd be pretty concerned about because there are substantial numbers of people and infrastructure nearby."

The seismometers can detect earthquakes caused when magma moves below the surface, and the GPS will signal changes in the shape of the surface that could be caused by the shifting magma below, Ewert said.

There is currently one seismic detector on the volcano, but to detect the exact location of cracking or fracturing rock signaling a possible eruption requires at least four, he said.

Nine stations is something of a minimal number for a volcano the size of Newberry, he said, and can measure its normal behavior on a day-to-day basis.

With the last eruption just 1,300 years ago -- relatively recently, geologically speaking -- volcanologists say the more measurements, the better.

"It's just a big honking volcano," Cynthia Gardner with the Cascades observatory said, "and it deserves more than we have on it right now."

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