After bodies are released, Lake Mead reveals disturbing prehistoric ash

Lake Mead, which has been in the headlines for several months for seeing bodies surfacing, is making headlines again. Stones were discovered this time. They could eventually become dangerous.

Lake Mead hasn’t finished revealing its secrets yet. While the body of water, which crosses several states between Nevada and Arizona, has drastically lowered its level due to an intense drought, five bodies have come to the surface in recent months. Shipwrecks have also been sighted. This time it is certain rocks that have been exposed by the lack of water. A University of Nevada study published by the Geological Society of the United States explains that these rocks have not been visible since the 1930s, the year the lake’s dam was built.

Experts are particularly interested in the incredible story they contain. They would actually contain volcanic ash from prehistoric times (their date actually ranges from 12 million years to 32,000 years). Eugene Smith, professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, told KSL News Radio that the study provides revealing information about the West’s geographic past. “It’s very exciting,” he commented, noting that the study could have been conducted due to the low water level of the lake.

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A health hazard

The University of Nevada team reports that the different layers of ash help determine how often the Las Vegas area has been hit by these ash plumes over time. The aim is then to be able to prepare for future volcanic activity from more distant regions. The study identified four possible sources of ash from surrounding states, including Yellowstone National Park and the Ancestral Cascades, which stretch from Northern California to British Columbia, Canada. Areas near the Las Vegas Valley such as Southwest Nevada Volcanic Field and Walker Lane Volcanoes in Southern California were also listed.

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But that ash could eventually have dangerous effects on the region. And with good reason, despite the millions or thousands of years that separate them from our century, they could one day hit the valley hard, causing health problems, power outages or road traffic. “Even a few millimeters of ash is incredibly heavy when wet and can destroy power and telecommunications lines,” writes Eugene Smith in his study.

He adds that even in moderate amounts, volcanic ash can travel thousands of kilometers and blanket entire areas in heavy material. If this ash is inhaled, the particles it contains, including sharp glass grains, can also cause chronic lung problems. “The ash is rapidly reshaped by wind and water,” says Eugene Smith. “Although the Las Vegas Valley is currently very far from active volcanoes, in the future we will see ash fall from these volcanoes onto southern Nevada.” Volcanic ash may contain volcanic glass, debris, and crystals from the magma chamber that fuels the eruption .

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