Tourists Venture Inside a Volcano in New Hampshire

ByABC News
July 24, 2000, 9:44 AM

O S S I P E E, N.H., July 24 -- Youve skied the majestic mountains,trekked the wild terrain and lounged by the lakes. So whats leftfor the New Hampshire tourist? Try venturing into a volcano.

About 200 million years ago, long before tourists flocked to NewHampshire to see the foliage, an active volcano was the topattraction.

Geologists say that at the time it was much bigger than MountSt. Helens, and when it erupted for the final time the force wasperhaps 10 times that of the 1980 rumble in Washington state.

Curious Attraction for Tourists

And the cloud of ash, which reached temperatures of 1,300degrees and traveled some 100 mph, would have killed anything inits path.

Left behind today is a less dangerous, but still curiousattraction for geologists and tourists the Ossipee Mountains,which provide a rare look at the inner workings of an inactivevolcano.

Its like taking a trip down to the center of the earth andgetting deeper and deeper and seeing the bowels of a volcano, theplumbing, said geologist Stanley Williams.

Its like being inside a volcano, kind of a neat thing. If yougo to a modern volcano, you can take samples outside, but you cantsee down inside, said Williams, who was a visiting professor atDartmouth College from Arizona State University last year.

Take the Car, Take a Hike

Visitors to the Ossipee Mountains can experience the vicariousthrill of standing on a once-active volcano, and collect samples ofvolcanic rock belched up during the last eruption. It is one of thefew places in the world that offers such easy access to the guts ofa volcano, Williams said.

Tourists can take the kids and experience the volcanicexperience without worrying about eruptions, state geologist GeneBoudette said. But they might have to do some studying to know forcertain which rocks are volcanic, as they arent as obvious as somewould think there hasnt been any lava flowing nearby for quitesome time.