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Rest Easy: Earthquakes In Mammoth Lakes Area Unrelated To Volcanic Activity

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Lake Crowley, in the Long Valley Caldera (Photo by ccharmon via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Residents (and skiers and snowboarders) can sleep easier, as a seismologist has said that a recent swarm of over 600 small earthquakes in the Mammoth Lakes region of California is not related to volcanic activity.

David Shelly from the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Science Center says that small earthquakes in the Long Valley Caldera (a caldera is basically the valley left behind from the collapse of an ancient volcano) are quite common in the area, and that the recent outburst is just "a bit more energetic than what we have seen in a while." The strongest temblor occurred Thursday night and measured at 3.8, according to the LA Times.

Shelly says that the shaking is a result of water pressure from local hot springs affecting tectonic plates and not magma beneath the surface. Although the Long Valley Caldera is one of 17 active volcanoes in the state, the last time it erupted was 50,000 years ago. The last volcanic activity in California was when Lassen Peak, near the Oregon border, erupted in 1917. "We are not having any eruptions in California... in the near future," said Shelly.

The adjacent Mammoth Mountain, which is home to a popular ski resort, is also an active volcano, though its plumbing system is actually separate from the Long Valley.