U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-221, version 1.0
This report is only available on the web.

Bibliography of Literature Pertaining to Long Valley Caldera and Associated Volcanic Fields


John W. Ewert1 and Christopher J. Harpel1


On May 25-27, 1980, the Long Valley caldera was rocked by four M = 6 earthquakes. This seismicity heralded the onset of a wave of activity within the caldera that has continued through the present time. Unrest has taken the form of seismic swarms, uplift of the resurgent dome, and areas of vegetation killed by increased CO2 emissions, all interpreted as resulting from magma injected to different levels beneath the caldera. Continuing economic development in the Mammoth Lakes area has swelled the local population, increasing the risk to people and property if an eruption were to occur. The U.S. Geological Survey has been monitoring geophysical activity in the Long Valley area since the mid-1970s and continues to monitor the unrest in real time with a sophisticated network of geophysical sensors in order to track developments in the unrest and provide hazards information to local, state and federal officials and the public.

The Long Valley caldera area was also scientifically important before the onset of the current unrest. Lying at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, the deposits from this active volcanic system have provided fertile ground for research into Neogene tectonics, Quaternary geology and geomorphology, regional stratigraphy, and volcanology. In the early 1970's intensive studies of the area began through the USGS Geothermal Investigations Program owing to the presence of a large young silicic volcanic system (Muffler and Williams, 1976). The paroxysmal eruption of Long Valley caldera, ca. 760 ka, produced the Bishop Tuff and associated Bishop ash (Gilbert, 1938; Bailey and others, 1976; Hildreth, 1979). The Bishop Tuff is a well preserved ignimbrite deposit that has continued to provide new and developing insights into the dynamics of ignimbrite forming eruptions (e.g. Wilson and Hildreth, 1997). Another extremely important aspect of the Bishop Tuff is that it is the oldest known normally magnetized unit of the Brunhes Chron. Thus, the age of the Bishop Tuff is used to define the beginning of the Brunhes Chron and helps constrain the Brunhes-Matuyama boundary (Izett and Obradovich, 1994). The Bishop ash was dispersed as far east as Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas, and provides an important tephrostratigraphic marker throughout the western United States (Ward et al., 1993; Izett, 1982).

The obsidian domes of both the Mono and Inyo Craters, which were produced by rhyolitic eruptions in the last 40,000 years have been well studied, including extensive scientific drilling through the domes (Eichelberger, 1989). Exploratory drilling has also occurred on the resurgent dome of the caldera (Hill and others, 1998) and within the Casa Diablo geothermal field (Smith and others, 1977). Aside from scientific drilling, the Casa Diablo geothermal field has been developed and is currently producing electricity (Duffield and others, 1994).

Studies in all of the above mentioned fields have contributed to the extensive scientific literature published on the Long Valley caldera region. Although the majority of scientific literature on Long Valley has been produced since 1970, a significant amount of historical literature extends back to the late 1800's. The purpose of this bibliography is to compile references pertaining to the Long Valley region from all time periods and all earth science fields into one single listing, thus providing an easily accessible guide to published literature for current and future researchers.


We include references in this bibliography if they are directly applicable to the Long Valley caldera and its recent geophysical unrest, as well at to Mono Craters, Inyo Craters, Mono Lake Volcanic Field, and the deposits from these volcanoes, or if they contained regional geological information that would be important to a researcher investigating aspects of the geology and geophysics of the area. Because of the relatively small number of references prior to 1940, we took a broader view of relevance within the older literature. Whereas, we took a more restrictive view of relevancy for the post-1940 references.

Formatted Bibliography

The Long Valley bibliography is also available as a standard alphabetical lisiting of publications in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). The entire bibliography may printed from the Adobe Acrobat viewer and Acrobat's simple search utility can be used to find specific words or phrases.


This bibliography contains a total of 1612 references, which we classify into five categories: books and book sections, abstracts, theses, journal articles, and governmental reports (Fig. 1). 685 abstracts comprise 43% of the total. Meeting abstracts of both the American Geophysical Union and Geological Society of America are included in this category. This convention is different than that used in some other bibliographic data bases, such as the Hawaiian bibliography produced by Wright and Takahashi (1998).
Graph showing the distribution of references by type
Figure 1. Graph showing the distribution of references by type. 
The second largest group of references is journal articles with 550 total references, or 34% of the bibliography. Thus, the overwhelming majority of the references are journal articles and abstracts. This is not surprising as the same trend has been found with literature pertaining to the Hawaiian Islands (Wright and Takahashi, 1998).

Book and book sections comprise 12% of the bibliography with 188 references. This category includes portions of Geological Society of America Special Papers as well as chapters published in books about hazard management and techniques for volcano monitoring (e.g., Sheridan, 1968; Andrews, 1968). Proceedings from meetings are also included in this category (e.g., Liddicoat and Bailey, 1989), and generally are distinguished from abstracts by being over one page in length.

Government reports are fourth in number with 120 references or 7% of the total. This category includes all State and Federal documents such as U.S. Geological Survey Professional Papers and Open-File Reports. Exceptions to this apply when a governmental agency has published meeting abstracts, such as the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (1989), Continental Magmatism Abstracts, published as New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Bulletin 131. In this case the references are included in the abstract category. One other exception is the field guide to the Long Valley area by Bailey and others (1989) published in New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Memoir 47 that is included in the book and book section category.

The final and smallest category is theses, making up 4% of the bibliography. A total of 66 theses including 29 Master's and 37 Ph.D. theses have been written on Long Valley. Subject matter for the theses varies from geological mapping (e.g., Dunn, 1951), to volcanic geology and petrology (e.g., Bailey, 1978), to the seismic structure of the area (e.g., Mayeda, 1991).

The number of references for each discipline keyword varies from seismology with 451 references to atmosphere with eight references. The other disciplines are linearly distributed between these two end members.


The graph of number of references published per decade (Fig. 2) shows that the bulk of the literature on the Long Valley area has been published since 1970. However, several interesting patterns are apparent in the early literature on the area. The first geological exploration of the region occurred in the 1860's (Whitney, 1865). The region's volcanic nature has been recognized since at least the 1870's, and many of the early references published from 1870 through 1900 are related to volcanic features such as the obsidian domes (e.g., Le Conte, 1879). From 1900 until 1920, however, the water resources of the region took the forefront of the published research (e.g., Lee, 1912). Volcanic and Pleistocene geology returned to prominance through the 1920's to 1940's (e.g., Gilbert, 1938; Kesseli, 1948). In the 1950's general geology was emphasized and geologic maps for both the Casa Diablo and Bishop 15-minute quadrangles were published (Bateman, 1957; Rinehart and Ross, 1957). Also, results from the first geophysical survey of the region were reported in the 1950's by Pakiser and others (1958).
Graph showing the distribution of references by type
Figure 1. Graph of the distribution of references published per decade from 1880 through 1999 showing the increase in published literature since the 1960's.
The rising trend in the number and variety of publications began in the 1960's, principally due to an increasing interest in the Casa Diablo geothermal area. Initial exploratory geothermal drilling was carried out during the 1960's, followed by more intensive drilling and study in the 1970's. In 1976 a Journal of Geophysical Research volume was dedicated to geothermal research in Long Valley, and multiple U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Reports were published on the geothermal exploration (Muffler and Williams, 1976, and refs. within).

The number of published references jumped significantly in the 1980's. This abrupt increase is related to the onset of unrest within the caldera and implementation of the USGS effort to monitor the unrest both as a basis for understanding the nature of the unrest and its implications for providing advance warning of an impending eruption. The papers cover a wide range of topics such as ground deformation (e.g., Castle and others, 1984), seismicity (e.g., Ryall and Ryall, 1983), and the consequences of a large scale eruption (e.g., Miller and others, 1982). They include two special issues in the Journal of Geophysical Research devoted to Long Valley caldera (Hill and others, 1985; Goldstein and Stein, 1988). Also during the early 1980's, the Casa Diablo geothermal field was developed and in 1985 was put into production (Duffield and others, 1994).

The publication rate during the 1990's dropped off slightly from the 1980's level, although the rate remained high compared to pre-1980 levels. The elevated number of publications reflects the continuing unrest within the caldera, the continuous stream of real-time geophysical data, and the emergence of a new volcanic phenomenon during the 1990's. Recognition of "tree-kill" areas caused by magmatic CO2 effusing from the ground in the vicinity of Mammoth Mountain, for example, spurred a sequence of publications (e.g., Farrar and others, 1995). Also, new forms of monitoring, such as the use of the Global Positioning System, began to be utilized within the caldera during this decade adding to the literature (e.g., Marshall and others, 1997).

Persons wishing to develop an understanding of the geological history and ongoing unrest of the Long Valley caldera and associated volcanic fields, and who are new to the subject, may find the sheer volume of literature on the area to be daunting. An overview of the subject matter can be gained by reading the following papers: Bailey and others, 1976; Bailey, 1989; Bailey and Hill, 1990; Hill and others, 1985; Rundle and Hill, 1988; Ryall and Ryall, 1981; Hermance, 1983; Langbein and ohters, 1993; and Sorey and others, 1991.


This bibliography comprises a total of 1612 references on Long Valley caldera and vicinity. We have tried to be as complete as possible in our coverage of the geological and geophysical literature pertaining to the volcanic system. As time and resources permit, this database will be up-dated with references that may have been omitted and kept up to date with newly published literature.

EndNote Reference Database

This bibliography is maintained using the EndNote program. Within this program the bibliography is searchable by author, title, year, journal, or discipline keyword. A total of 20 discipline keywords are used to indicate the content of the references (Table 1). More than one keyword may be applied to a single reference. For example, references on tomography of the Long Valley area are listed under both the "seismology" and "geophysics" keywords as the subject pertains to both disciplines. Similarly, references on the Bishop ash are listed under both the "stratigraphy" and "Bishop Tuff" keywords. The keywords are relatively self explanatory with the exception of "descriptive". The "descriptive" keyword applies to field guides, descriptions of eruption mechanisms, and general references that do not specifically fit into any other category. Very specific searches of the title field can be made by employing a single word or phrase and may be the most useful search strategy. For example, a search for titles that include the word "Holocene" returns 19 references with Holocene in the title. For those people that do not have EndNote, a free viewer is available at http://www.endnote.com.
Table 1. List of discipline keywords and the total number of references covered by the keyword.
Discipline Keyword Total Number of References
Seismology 451
Geochemistry 313
Geophysics 303
Petrology 248
Geothermal 211
Descriptive 202
Bishop Tuff 173
Deformation 163
Hydrology 150
Geology 122
Geomorphology 103
Geochronology 84
Drilling 78
Tectonics 64
Hazards 40
Monitoring 36
Remote Sensing 35
Modeling 20
Atmosphere 8

Selected references

PDF version of entire Open-File Report 00-221

The document is 156 pages long and the file size is approximately 1 MB. It can be viewed using version 3.0 of Acrobat Reader.
This report is preliminary and has not been reviewed for conformity with U.S. Geological Survey editorial standards or with the North American Stratigraphic Code. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government

For questions about the content of this Open-File Report, contact J.W. Ewert

Department of the Interior
U. S. Geological Survey

U.S. Department of the Interior
Bruce Babbit, Secretary

U.S. Geological Survey
Charles Groat, Director

1USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
5400 MacArthur Blvd.
Vancouver WA 98661


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