NH Mountains Once Home to a Volcano 12,000 Feet Tall
When we think of New Hampshire, particularly its terrain, climate, and natural elements, our minds are very set to contemporary times. We don't often stop to think about what our home might have looked like way back when.
And by "way back when," we mean 124 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
It's obvious that the world as we know it was once very different. That said, it may still be surprising to hear that the Ossipee Mountain Range is on the site of what was once a 12,000-foot tall volcano.
Today, what remains of this volcano is known as the Ossipee Caldera.
What is a caldera?
A caldera is described by National Geographic as a "large depression formed when a volcano erupts and collapses". It's basically like one big sinkhole.
According to a YouTube video from Geology Hub, the Ossipee Mountain Range is enclosed in a caldera, as the mountains cover a roughly circular area resembling the dimensions of such a crater. This particular caldera is approximately nine to 10 miles in diameter.
So wait...this means that at one point there was a volcano in New Hampshire?
Yep, it's true.
The video explains that through a series of events over a hundred million years ago, a hot spot made its way to New Hampshire. National Geographic defines hot spots as regions "deep within the Earth's mantle from which heat rises through the process of convection."
Over time, this hot spot would cause a series of explosions that would create a volcanic cone. Multiple eruptions would then cause said cone to grow into what would become a 12,000-foot tall volcano.
What happened to the volcano? How did the Ossipee Caldera come to be afterwards?
The YouTube video goes on to say that as more and more pressure built, a massive eruption caused parts of the volcano's eruption column to collapse before the ground itself followed suit. And thus, the caldera was born.
The outer rocks eroded away over time, which is why the caldera looks the way it does today.
As for the hot spot that caused all of this? Well, it's still active, but has since moved far away from North America.
Check out the video below to learn more about the Ossipee Caldera.