NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCESLa Garita Caldera Garita Caldera is a large supervolca...


La Garita Caldera

La Garita Caldera is a large supervolcanic caldera in the San Juan volcanic field in the San Juan Mountains near the town of Creede in southwestern Colorado, United States. It is west of La Garita, Colorado. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera is among the largest known volcanic eruptions in Earth's history, as well as being one of the most powerful known supervolcanic events.

The La Garita Caldera is one of a number of calderas that formed during a massive ignimbrite flare-up in Colorado, Utah and Nevada from 40–18 million years ago, and was the site of massive eruptions about 28.01±0.04 million years ago, during the Oligocene Epoch.

The area devastated by the La Garita eruption is thought to have covered a significant portion of what is now Colorado. The deposit, known as the Fish Canyon Tuff, covered at least 11,000 sq mi (28,000 km2). Its average thickness is 330 ft (100 m). The eruption might have formed a large-area ash-fall, but none has yet been identified.

The scale of La Garita volcanism was the second greatest of the Cenozoic Era. The resulting Fish Canyon Tuff has a volume of approximately 1,200 cubic miles (5,000 km3), giving it a Volcanic Explosivity Index rating of 8. By comparison, the eruption of Mount St. Helens on 18 May 1980 was 0.25 cubic miles (1.0 km3) in volume. By contrast, the most powerful human-made explosive device ever detonated, the Tsar Bomba, had a yield of 50 megatons, whereas the eruption at La Garita was about 5,000 times more energetic. However, because Tsar Bomba's reaction was complete within nanoseconds, while a volcanic explosion can take seconds or minutes, the power of the events is comparable if measured within the respective bounded timeframes.

The Fish Canyon eruption was the second most energetic event to have occurred on Earth since the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. The asteroid impact responsible for that mass-extinction, equivalent to 240 teratons of TNT, was approximately one hundred times more powerful than the Fish Canyon eruption.

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