THE DENVER VOLCANO

And Earthquakes

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Dream

            It all started when I woke up on Christmas day in 1999 remembering a bizarre dream I had.  Don't ask me why it was on Christmas that I had this dream; probably too many Christmas sweets from the night before.  In the dream I saw the cone of a volcano in the foothills of Colorado with old town buildings, shops,Sketch From Dream and busy people in the foreground.  Still asleep dreaming, I thought, "I didn't know that there were volcanoes in Colorado!"  So using lucid dream techniques, I attempted to pinpoint the location of the volcano.  At the end of the dream, I remember seeing a map of Colorado and my attention was drawn to the North Eastern quarter of the state.  That was where the volcano would be found.  Then I woke up.  I thought, "This was too weird to let myself forget," so I got a piece of paper and sketched what I remember seeing, as well as some of the thoughts I remembered having during the dream.

            Too weird for ya?  Well, this IS Planet Goofball, and YOU'RE the one who clicked on the Denver Volcano link.  Following is the report I did for my college English course "Freshman Composition – Research, Analysis and Documentation" in which I logically and systematically present my research of the absurd idea of a volcano being in Colorado.  I got a 'B' for my final grade.Lava Brick Towards Flat Irons

 

Volcano Discovery

            In the July of 2001, while walking by Coal Creek on the North side of Rocky Flats, I discovered a few bricks of lava near the riverbed.  The lava rocks were not piled on top of each other in a single location, the way they would be if somebody had dumped them there.  They were scattered over a great distance in close proximity to the river.  It appeared that they had been displaced there naturally.I remember growing up in Westminster observing a certain mountain in the Front Range that could be seen out of the west window of myLava Bricks Near Coal Creek Size Compared to Cell Phone house, which looked like a volcano.  "No, there are no volcanoes in Colorado," my parents would assure me.  Later in 2001, after finding the lava rocks I went volcano hunting.  I knew that Coal Creek flows northeast, so I figured the source of the lava rocks was south of Rocky Flats.  I got on Highway 93 and started driving.  The Foot Hills Road provides an extremely beautiful drive with dramatic mountain formations on one side and open plains on the other.  It runs from the south of Boulder all the way to Golden.  While I was driving south,There Is A Volcano In Denver the road dipped between a long sandstone ridge and the Front Range.  I paid particular attention to a bowl shaped formation on the west side of the road.  As I drove down into the valley where 68th avenue intersects with Highway 93, without any prior topographical knowledge of the area, I looked at the bowl shaped mountain and said to myself, "That’s it."

 Thats It

 

Thesis

            Many people who move to Denver may be convinced that its generally a safe city.  They may come fleeing earthquakes,Ralston Dike Close Up hurricanes, floods, and high crime.  In most regards, this is a correct assumption from a safety point of view.  Although Colorado does have an occasional blizzard and tornado, most hazardous weather conditions occur west of the city in the plains region.  The City of Denver rests in the protective rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains.  But a fact that only a few people who live here are aware of is that the entire Front Range is composed of mostly volcanic rocks, and that the two distinct mesas directly west of down town, North and South TableTable Mountain And Volcano Looking Mountain Mountains which partially define the unique skyline of the Denver area are volcanic lava flows.  They are the closest mountains to the city lying ten miles from downtown, making the largest probable source of the lava flows, Ralston dike, thirteen and a half miles from the capitol building.  There is no cone or visible hint that a volcano once existed there.  Most of the evidence has been eroded.  All that remains are North and South Table Mountains, which people dismiss as harmless formations.  Although the volcano is extinct and remains nameless,North Table Mountain Towards Denver nobody seems to know its there.  Very few people know that Colorado is over due for a severe earthquake, or how earthquakes can cause volcanic eruptions.  Realistic disaster and evacuation scenarios will be given later is this report based on the legitimate threats posed to this city.

 

Volcanic System of Golden

            In his Geological Survey Professional Paper 872, Richard Van Horn states that the Front Range is made up of both sedimentary and volcanic rocks.  There were two periods of volcanic activity in this area, Precambrian – about 4,500 million years ago when the crust of the earth was formed, and Tertiary – from about 65 to 26 million years ago; before the history of man.  Many volcanic dikes from both time periods are present in the Front Range, as well as are several faults (Van Horn 1).  A dike is a solidified artery of magma which was previously injected into the surface of the earth from an underground source.  It can also be referred to as an intrusion.  An intrusion is unerupted magma (Challinor).  Each group of dikes in the Front Range is composed of different types of minerals, showing that there were a few separate sources and mixtures of magma which produced them.  There are thirteen known dikes in this particular area including Ralston dike which are all situated north of Golden along or near the Golden fault, which runs roughly parallel to the Front Range. 

Panorama Of Ralston And Dikes

They are basically all made of the same type of minerals.  Today they are probably near where the surface of the ground was back then (Van Horn 49).  "… the inverted cone shape of Ralston dike indicates that it (the magma) may have been expanding as it approached the earth’s surface" (53).  "The large number and close grouping of these intrusives indicate to me the possibility that they all merge into a single large mass within a few hundred feet of the ground surface" (49).  North andTable Mountains Satellite Image South Table Mountains are capped by three lava flows, one on top of the other, which are composed of the same material as the dikes to the North West (50).  The lava flows are also referred to as extrusive volcanic material.  An extrusion is lava which has erupted from the surface of the earth (Challinor).  The lava flows and dikes are from the more recent Tertiary period and are made up of similar minerals, which show that this particular volcanic system was a single occurrence from a single source.  The volcanic activity appears to have ceased just before the last time the Golden fault was active (Van Horn 48 – 53, 98).  The lava field was presumably much more extensive than what we see today.  The majority of extrusive material has been torn and washed away by receding waters and weathered away by erosion, leaving only the dikes and table mountains (Taylor).

 

Sequence of Formation

            By studying the fault, mineral composition of the dikes and lava flows, and other topographical features, Van Horn deduces the particulars of the eruption.  The area west of the Golden fault thrust upward and magma rose through the fault.  As the magma approached the surface, it was stopped by sedimentary rock and pressure build up.  When the pressure of the magma overcame the strength of the overlying rock, lava erupted (97 – 99).  The first lava flow was not very large, it was extruded in the form of several relatively small waves, some as thick as sixty feet.  A "nearly vertical tubular opening" developed in the flow on North Table Mountain as well as other "circular openings" possibly caused by venting gas (50).  The second lava flow covered and burnt plant life, leaving behind a scorched appearance in some areas.  After this flow solidified, a stream cut into it on the west side of North Table Mountain, digging a channel nearly fifty feet deep.  Later, a "volcanic mud flow" which was probably hot washed into the channel.  As the front wave of the third flow poured into this stream "the water vaporized suddenly," and caused the lava to "practically explode" leaving behind an "oxidation and burnt appearance of nearby sediments."  After the heat evaporated all the water, the third lava flow filled the channel and continued to move downhill (52 – 53).  After the majority of lava had erupted from the dikes, all fault activity on the Golden fault ceased, except for signs of some tectonic movement recorded in the rock which occurred after the lava solidified (48, 98).  This was presumably caused by additional intrusive material attempting to erupt and then subsiding.  This is the extent of volcanic activity nearest Denver.

 

Earthquake Danger

            On April 2, 1981 an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2 hit Denver.  The epicenter was located in Thornton, where the worst damage was only some tiny cracks found in the basement of the city hall building.  Although it was felt throughout the Denver area, it was considered a mild quake (Sinisi, Borst).  It did however trigger a wave of investigations into the potential seismic hazards in Colorado, which were conducted by the Colorado Geological Survey who had become deeply concerned about the possible danger in the state.

    Colorado has long been considered an area of low seismicity with only a minor potential for future earthquakes.  Recent geological and geophysical investigations, however, have discovered several active faults that are capable of generating future damaging earthquakes and numerous other faults that are suspected of being potentially active.  These investigations suggest Colorado is a moderately active earthquake area and in time larger earthquakes than yet have been experienced can occur (Kirkham and Rogers iii).

            Due to those recent events the Colorado Geological Survey considered the Golden fault along with many others as 'potentially active' and capable of causing serious damage, or even loss of life (Junge, iii).  The Golden fault is roughly thirty kilometers long, stretching from near Belleview and South Alkire Street north west along C-470 to U.S. Highway 6 and State Highway 58 in Golden.  It then strikes north along Highway 93, cuts through the center of Ralston dike and continues northward towards Rocky Flats terminating near Coal Creek where 128th avenue intersects with the Foothills road (Kirkham and Rogers et al.).  This fault appears to connect with the Livingston fault, which strikes northwest from Ralston dike, and there is evidence that there are two other related faults in the area (Van Horn 96 – 97).  The Golden fault has moved about 9,000 feet of the ground surface at it's widest spot near Clear Creek in Golden (Junge, 40).  Several anomalous ground formations discovered along these faults showed signs of recent fault movement within the last several million years; one area in particular near Clear Creek where the ground had moved up to eighteen feet (32).  "Because of the potential seismic hazard posed by the existing evidence, the Rocky Flats nuclear processing plant was requested to conduct a thorough earthquake hazard evaluation of the Golden fault and associated faults" (40).  None of the information acquired during these investigations produced conclusive evidence that the Golden fault had been active within the last five to six hundred thousand years.  Although several instances of 'anomalous features' were reported, nothing significant pointed to definite seismic activity.  So the CGS rated the Golden fault as "not capable" (32, 40 – 41).

            The largest earthquake Colorado had experienced occurred in 1882 with an estimated epicenter west of Fort Collins (Spence, par. 2).  There were no ways to record or scale earthquake intensity back then, except by the effects they had on people, objects, buildings etc. (Challinor).  This quake had a rating of VII on the Mercalli scale; an earthquake where it would have been difficult to stand, pictures and chandeliers would be shaken, furniture would be broken, weak masonry construction would be damaged and cracked, waves would be seen on ponds, water would become muddy, etc.  This would have been around 6.5 on the Richter scale (Kirkham and Rogers, 1).  A quake of this magnitude would devastate Denver today (Taylor).  When an earthquake of 3.5 to 4 on the Richter scale can cause only a little to medium damage, an earthquake of 5 can cause some serious damage (Sinisi, Borst).  Most of the sky scrapers down town were not built to withstand a 6.5 earthquake (Taylor).  On the Richter scale, a quake of 6.5 is ten times worst than a 5.5.  "Don Doegring, head of CSU’s earth resources department, said an earthquake of about 6.5 on the Richter scale hits the Front Range once every one hundred years.  We're not just due, we're overdue, said Doehring" (Sharder).  Because of Colorado's relatively short period of recorded earthquake activity, around 130 years, the ability to predict the reoccurrence of destructive earthquakes in this region is very difficult.  However, a quake of 6.5 is capable of manifesting at any time anywhere in Colorado’s Front Range (Spence, par. 3).

            The largest, most famous earthquakes recorded in modern Denver were a swarm of human induced quakes, which occurred on and around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Fault over a period of nearly thirty years (Kirkham and Rogers, Junge).  The estimated parameters for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal fault begin roughly at Peoria and 56th avenue.  The fault cuts northwest through the arsenal crossing just southwest of were US highway 85 connects with I-76.  It continues northwest passing through Thornton northeast of East Lake Reservoir, terminating near Huron and 152nd avenue after running under I-25 (Kirkham and Rogers, Maps co).  These quakes began on April 24th, 1962, which were triggered by the pumping of nuclear waste and pesticides in liquid form under high pressure into a 3,670-meter deep disposal well (Taylor, Kirkham and Rogers).  The first quake was 1.5 on the Richter scale.  It was not known that there was a major fault in this area until later.  Pumping continued for almost four years as the number of quakes increased and magnitudes reached as high as 5.0.  On January 5th, 1965 a small earthquake with a magnitude of around 2 occurred at the Rocky Flats nuclear processing plant, possibly an effect of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal earthquakes. Rocky Flats is about fourteen miles west of the RMA, and does lie on the same line of latitude at the RMA quakes (Eq. Info. 13, Mapsco).  The danger persisted until investigations discovered the possibility that the earthquakes were being caused by the deep fluid injections at the well.  After this information was publicly made known, pumping stopped at the well on February 20th, 1966.  However, the earthquake activity did not subside immediately.  An even larger 5.3 event occurred a year and a half later, causing over one million dollars in damage.  It was after that when things began to slowly calm down (Kirkham and Rogers 71, 101 – 103).  Authorities felt they had seen the worst until the 1981 earthquake previously mentioned.  "Confidence in a low level of future activity in the area was not strengthened by the earthquake of 2 April 1981 whose magnitude was close to 4.0.  Why so big, so late" (Junge 23)?  "Geologists were hoping that pumping fluids into major fault lines may release minor tremors and prevent lock up that eventually would lead to major quakes" (Sinisi and Borst).  The last earthquake appears to have occurred on November 8th, 1989.  The number of Denver earthquakes reached nearly two thousand, and have become the worldwide known example of what not to do (Junge 23, Earthquake Info 22, Earthquake Potential 104).

            Since the advent and application of seismometers in the 60's, there has literally not been one year that Colorado has gone without a recorded seismic event.  In the same year as the famous Los Angeles earthquake in 1994, over ten events were recorded in this state, including one near Castle Rock, which measured 4.0 (Eq. Info 11 – 23).  This does not add to the peace of mind for those moving to Colorado who are fleeing California quakes. 

 

Volcanoes And Earthquakes

            Mount St. Helens was classified as a dormant volcano.  Its located in Washington State, in the Northern Cascades, a volcanic system setting along the West Coast of the United States.  Two months before the eruption in 1980, the flow of magma caused earthquakes as it rose inside the volcano and vented out the top in the form of ash.  Later, the vents collapsed and magma began to accumulate inside the mountain.  This is called a crypto dome.  The growing reservoir of magma caused the mountain to become deformed and bulge on the north side.  The area remained unstable until May 18th when a 5.1 earthquake finally shook the north side of the volcano loose, creating one of the largest landslides recorded in history.  Once the magma was exposed, it exploded horizontally and raced down the mountain with the landslide leveling 234 square miles of forests.  This is called a pyroclastic flow.  "The intense heat melted snow and ice, creating a mudflow that flowed rapidly down the Toutle River, knocking down trees and destroying everything in it’s path, including 221 homes."  As a result of the eruption, 57 people were killed (Weyerhaeuser).

            Because of it's relatively isolated location, the damage and death toll were not as great as it could have been.  Mount St. Helens lies in a volcanically and tectonically active region.  The Denver Volcano is extinct and does not lie in a volcanically or tectonically active region.  However it sets near the Rio Grande Rift, which is the dominant earthquake region in Colorado (Eq. Po. iii), and "the deadliest (volcanoes) have been labeled extinct" (Nature’s Inferno).

            The Rio Grande Rift is a continental rift extending up from Mexico through Texas, New Mexico, and into most of Colorado located behind the eastern mountain range (Geophysics of the RGR).  The rift began to form around thirty million years ago when the west coast of the North American plate collided with the Pacific plate, causing the surface of the continent to bend upward.  As this happened, the crust thinned out and the mantle rose up to fill the gap.  Magma rose with the mantle and breeched the surface, forming volcanoes such as the ones near Albuquerque and in south western Colorado.  The volcanoes in south west Colorado last erupted around thirty six million years ago, forming the San Juan volcanic field (My Homepage).  They are of the same Tertiary Age as the Denver volcano, and are west of the deepest part of the rift (Veatch).  The volcanoes in Albuquerque erupted later between 5.5 to 1.8 million years ago (Veatch, Kelley and Kudo 7).  Along the sides of the rift as the crust pulled apart, the surface became compressed thrusting areas upward, which created faults like the Golden fault and the formations of the Front Range.  It is conceivable that this was what caused the Denver Volcano (Taylor).  It seems that volcanism in the Rio Grande Rift is a result of the rifting activity.  "Faulting and associated earthquakes continue today as the Rio Grande Rift continues to widen" (Veatch).  "Geologic evidence indicates that the Rio Grande Rift is an area where earthquakes should be expected" (Eq. Info. 127).

    Most volcanogenic earthquakes result from the movement of magma, the formation of cracks through which it can move, and gas explosions within the conduit.  Such earthquakes originate within a few kilometers of the surface.  Other earthquakes result from redistribution of the load of the volcano and from caldera subsidence.  Still others, tectonic earthquakes in the vicinity of a volcano, may allow magma to rise (Blong 48).

            Most eruptions are preceded by a swarm of earthquakes.  Preliminary earthquake swarms can last to over a year, when others can occur within the same day as the eruption.  Volcanic earthquakes are usually very shallow, "less than ten kilometers in depth," and can occur very far from the eventual eruption (Blong 52 – 53).  In 1815 earthquakes were felt 780 kilometers away from an eruption in Tambora.  Usually precursor earthquakes grow in size leading up to an eruption, but some instances have been recorded where there was a subsidence in activity before an eruption, such as at Mount St. Helens (50 – 51).  Volcanic earthquakes have caused severe damage in the past.  "In 1835 at San Miguel some (people) who were walking in a penitential parade were thrown to the ground by a long and violent quake" (53).  This would have been a VII quake on the Mercalli scale.  "One of the greatest known earthquakes of volcanic origin occurred as Sakura-jima in 1914.  This earthquake had a focus at thirteen kilometer depth and a Richter magnitude M = 6.7."  "Similarly, the M = 7.2 earthquake on November 29, 1975, at Kilauea, closely associated with an eruption and a tsunami, caused considerable damage in several areas on Hawaii" (54).

            'Extinct' volcanoes have unexpectedly erupted in the past.  One of the most devastating examples was the eruption of Mount Lamington in 1951, where five thousand people were killed (Tazieff and Sabroux 14).  "Lamington was not even known to be a volcano" (Blong 51)!  The volcanic system on Heimaey Island in Iceland was though to be extinct until January 23rd, 1973 when lava began to erupt only 200 meters from the city (Heimaey Island).  Other examples include Mount Bezymianny in Kamchatcka, from 1955 to 1956, and Mount Arenal in Costa-Rica in 1968 (Tazieff and Sabroux 14).  "A UNESCO (1979) report suggests that, on average, one "extinct" volcano erupts every five years" (Blong 7).  The current elevation of Denver's volcano (5,850 feet) may be one reason scientists consider it exempt from ever becoming active.  However several signs of continuing volcanic activity in the Rio Grande Rift remains, including numerous hot springs in Colorado, "high crustal temperatures," "and ongoing uplift" (Veatch, Geophysics of the RGR).  The highest active volcanoes in the world are located in the Andes Mountains of South America whose summits are over 3.5 miles high.

 

Disaster and Evacuation Scenarios

            The scale of destruction can vary to any extreme according to the type of volcanic eruption.  Magma tends to flow to and erupt near the center of a fault at it's widest point.  Junge states that the area of maximum displacement of the Golden fault is near Clear Creek, which flows through the center of Golden.  Yet Van Horn identified it as being "just north of Golden" (Junge 38, Van Horn 97).  If the initial eruption occurs in a valley, which is the case in the area along which the widest part of the fault lies, the result would be rather subdued.  Vertical fountains of lava may be ejected out of a fissure that opens from the Golden fault.  Depending on the conditions, a column of hot ash can reach as high as thirty kilometers, or even higher (Blong 21).  The typical weather pattern in Colorado calls for a wind direction from the from the northwest, which puts most of south Denver in the direct path of tephra fall.  However, if a gigantic plume of ash fills the air, most of the city may be affected.  As the cloud is carried away from the volcano and the material in the cloud cools, the heavier particles fall to the earth first.  There have been instances where the ash was still hot enough when it landed on the earth to burn holes through cloth.  The prospect of fires becoming ignited by ash or lava may be, at first, more of a concern in Colorado than the resurrection of the volcano.  Ash can also affect the performance of machinery and cause fleeing motorists to become stranded on highways.

            The most likely spot for an eruption is near the original sight at Ralston dike.  Van Horn pointed out that "the number and concentration of the intrusives suggest that they are all part of a single large intrusive lying near the surface" (97).  If this is true, and a crypto dome forms beneath the dikes, a resulting eruption would be explosive.  Since no large volcanic cone exists near Denver, the initial eruption would not be as catastrophic as other examples.  And due to it's small size and ground level location, a resulting pyroclastic explosion from Ralston dike would be small and would not travel far.  Extremely disastrous conditions may not occur near Denver until a large lava dome is formed after several eruptions.  After that, pyroclastic explosions and volcanic bombs will become more likely.

            The Golden fault doesn't pass beneath any of the table mountains, but it does cross the west side of Green Mountain.  To the uninformed viewer Green Mountain appears odd: spherical, dome-like, and bulgy.  It extends east, away from the rest of the Front Range and doesn't look like the surrounding mountains.  Because of it's conspicuous appearance and location, one could consider it as a potential crypto dome.   From the southern most part of the dikes to where Highway 93 intersects Pine Ridge Road, the ground rises about one hundred feet over the span of one mile.  After that highest point, the ground descends about three hundred feet to Clear Creek Canyon.  This is the most direct path for a lava flow to take into Golden if the eruption occurs at the original sight near the dikes.  One hundred feet is not a very large barricade to protect the small city, but depending on the amount, direction, and speed of lava, it may be enough.  The easier path for a lava flow to take today is directly east from the dikes between West 58th and 68th Avenues through Long Lake Ranch Park.  It would first destroy the water filtration plants on West 68th, the Apple Meadows residential park, and continue downhill eastward into Arvada and the rest of the city, filling lakes, rapidly vaporizing water, overwhelming everything in it’s path, seeking the lowest point of rest.  The typical lava flow can travel up to seven to twenty eight miles (Blong 19).  It's twenty eight miles from Ralston dike to D.I.A..  For the lava flow to reach Standley Lake, it would have to climb about one hundred and fifty feet over the area of Leyden Gulch.  The Most likely direction of flow, consistent with the past, is east southeast towards Wheatridge (Mapsco, Golden Quadrangle).

            If the eruption occurs within the town of Golden, the flow of lava would travel to Clear Creek, which is the lowest point, and then flow down the river bed, again, into the northwest edge of Wheatridge.  If the flow is large enough to overwhelm the riverbed, or a later lava flow travels over a previously solidified flow, the extrusive would reach into the structures nearest the river.

            The prospect of an immediate evacuation of Denver is grim if volcanic activity accumulates to a point that it is necessary.  Out of the nation's 53 capitol cities, Denver's highway system is rated in the worst top ten; the number one worst system being Los Angeles (Watson).  One word can describe the most likely situation: GRIDLOCK.  Typical rush hour lasts from around 7:30 to 9a.m., and 3:30 to 7p.m. where most people with a car have to be somewhere at different times.  Most people know better to stay off the highways or not have anywhere to go during these times.  Once news reaches people that a volcano is erupting in Denver, everybody with a car will scramble franticly for a highway at the same time.  Potentially every freeway out of the city will be subject to numerous car pileups in each direction.  If people abandon their vehicles, police and ambulances may not be able to reach accidents except my helicopter.

            There are the only six highway directions out of the city: north and southbound I-25, eastbound I-70 and I-76, northbound 225, and E-470.  Westbound I-70 passes through Golden between Green Mountain and South Table Mountain and will essentially be ground zero.  Traffic volume on westbound I-70 from Golden into the front range will not be as heavy because population is less dense in the mountains.  However earthquakes in the mountains would certainly cause so many rock slides along this vital shipping corridor of I-70 that clearing the debris and reopening it would be a job that could take the government a long time to complete.  In the city, all highways may become virtually impassible by vehicle due to all type of accidents.  Traffic flow may be at best 10 feet per minute.  Bulldozers and clearing crews will have to move cars off the road to make streets passable.

            Since everyone will be trying to get out of the city and nobody will be trying to get in, except for the military, it may be possible to allow both directions of traffic on a highway to be used as exits from the city.  That is, southbound I-25 into Denver would be useless and virtually empty if everyone is leaving.  To expedite the evacuation westbound I-70 into Denver, for example, should be converted to eastbound only consequently doubling the amount of evacuation lanes.  Many people may try to get to an airport and get out by plane.  All air traffic will most likely be departures and arrivals would have to be redirected elsewhere.  It is possible that the FAA will allow planes to continue to land at an airport to help evacuate people.  Weather forecasters will keep an eye on the ash column and direction of airflow to help determine when it is unsafe for air traffic.  Once a cloud of ash fills the airspace over an airport, no plane will be able to land or take off.  When most planes have left an airport, people will be turned down and have to go back to their cars.  Most people will flee to D.I.A. and wait there until the situation in the city calms down.  Depending on the severity and length of the eruption, people may not be allowed to reenter the city for several days or weeks.  They'll have to continue into Kansas or find a place to stay with relatives in other parts of the nation.

 

Conclusion

            There are many warning signs that can alert people and scientists to possible eruptions.  Ground deformation is one sign to keep an eye out for, such as unusually large cracks in pavement.  Newly uplifted areas can rise in elevation from a few millimeters to several meters.  "areas north and east of Usu were uplifted by as much as 50 meters in the six months before the 1944 eruption' (Blong 54).  After an eruption, when the lava has been extruded, the ground may subside.  "the area around Wallibou, southwest of Soufriere, St Vincent, subsided by as much as 18 meters after the 1902 eruption" (54).  This activity can be recorded by tilt meters, which obviously must be in place before anything can be monitored.  Other signs of possible volcanic activity can include, obviously, increasing earthquake activity.  The chemical content in the water and rivers around Golden may change.  Upper Long Lake resides inside the bowl shaped Ralston dike, and several other ponds and reservoirs surround the intrusive area.  Animals around Golden may begin to behave anxiously or die from venting poisonous gasses and contaminated water.  There are a few ranches in the immediate area which contain horses and cattle.  Many wild animals also reside in the region, such as beavers, prairie dogs, foxes, etc.  If animals in the area begin to turn up dead, the Colorado Geological Survey should take it as a hint to investigate.

            We live in a time where we know that anything can happen.  Nothing should be taken for granted or ignored.  The preliminary panic and run mentality can also cost more lives in an eruption in Denver than possibly what the volcano can take by itself.  If enlightened people can keep their heads in intense situations, perhaps not one life will be lost if evacuation is necessary.  (See the 1973 eruption of Heimaey Island.)  On the other hand, if roads which lead out of the city become impassable by vehicle, people will have to escape on foot.  The land is obviously the only mode of escape in Denver when ash fills the sky.

 

Disclaimer

            An earthquake or volcano is not something one should hope for.  This report was written with the same spirit of the shock jocks who enjoy scaring themselves.  It was not intended to cause fear or panic.  It’s purpose instead was to inform and entertain in a Real TV way, with a slight X-Files conspiracy flare.  If you have enjoyed this report, you may want to proceed with watching Dante’s Peak starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton.  It is suggested to view this movie with the lights off and volume turned up high.  Also, check out National Geographic’s Nature’s Inferno.  Considering the volcano’s true location, this paper should have been entitled "The Golden Volcano."  But because of it's proximity to Denver, the resulting affect it may have on the rest of the city, and to avoid confusion with a novel of theAsphalt Paving Co same name written by Jules Vern, the original title remains.  As for the volcano dream I had in 1999, it turned out to be true.  I still don’t know what to make of my dreaming it on Christmas.  But no worries, the volcano wasn’t erupting in the dream.  If you've lived here in Denver for some time and have never visited these areas, try to make a point of doing it in the future.  Ralston dike is off limits.  Its being bulldozed by an asphalt paving company; not exactly activity conducive to the prevention of an eruption…  However, much of North and South Table Mountains are open space parks.  There are bike paths, trails, and people are allowed to climb the mountain faces.  Old TownSouth West Towards NTM Golden is also a great tourist trap.  The entire area is very dynamic and beautiful.  I may be willing to take you on a paid tour if you're interested (.  Don't let tourists know more about your region than you do!

 

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Breathing Mountain, Mt. Arena. PBS. 12 Apr. 2002

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Heimae island, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, The 1973 eruption. 29 Jun. 1996 12 Apr 2002

            <http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~boris/Heimaey.html>.

Junge, W. Rahe. Colorado Tectonics, Seismicity and Earthquake Hazards. Denver: CGS Department of Natural Resources,             1981.

Kelley, V. C., and A. M. Kudo. Volcanoes and Related Basalts of Albuquerque Basin,

New Mexico. New Mexico: University of New Mexico Printing Plant, 1978.

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