Scientists keeping a close eye on California volcanoes following Kilauea eruption in Hawaii

- As Kilauea wreaks havoc on Hawaii, it's a good reminder that California has volcanoes too. There are Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak and the volcanic field at Clear Lake among others.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey keep a close eye on them, watching for signs something explosive may be coming. The eruption of Kilauea is luring scientists to Hawaii, many of them come from the California Volcano Observatory.

Geophysicist Emily Montgomery Brown says, "That's our primary job, to monitor California’s volcanoes."

That's right: California's volcanoes.

The closest is at Clear Lake, just 90 miles from San Francisco. Geologists say it last erupted 11,000 years ago. Others like Lassen have blown their top more recently, erupting from1914 through 1917. And experts say, there's a 25 percent chance another could blow within the next 30 years.

Montgomery Brown says, "The probability of an eruption happening in California, and it could be a small one at any one of our volcanoes, is about the same probability in the next 30 years as a major San Andreas fault earthquake."

And so, scientists are keeping watch constantly. 

Montgomery Brown says, "So what we're really looking for is behavior that is out of the ordinary. So we're monitoring for earthquake swarms. We're monitoring for ground deformation, that might tell us if there's fluid moving under the ground."

There are several types of volcanoes in California, but experts say an eruption here likely wouldn't look like Kilauea.

Tim McCrink with the California Geological Survey says, "What we would expect here would be more like Mt. Saint Helens. More of an explosive eruption. So that puts a lot of rock and dust and gasses in the air."

Scientists say there would be plenty of warning, if and when a California volcano was set to erupt.
Many of those fishing at Clear Lake say, this volcano has been quiet for so long, they didn't even realize it was there.

And scientists say don't worry, they'll continue to monitor all of California's volcanoes, even as they provide backup for in Hawaii.
 

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