Manhattan Beach Awakens to Volcano at Begg Field

By Dave Fratello | April 1st, 2021

Thanks for enjoying our annual April Fool's prank(s). We'll keep this story up for posterity, but no, there's no volcano to worry about. Do head down to Begg Field, though, to see what we were talking about.

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Local residents were shocked in the early morning hours of April 1 to find a smoking, 4-story-tall hill at the center of city-owned Begg Field, just up from Polliwog Park. A plume of white and grey smoke rose thousands of feet into the sky above the city.

It is the first volcano in Manhattan Beach since town records began in 1912.

The volcano emerged after a cluster of residents had reported rumbling and shaking overnight near their homes. The Manhattan Beach Fire Department rushed to investigate, finding brightly lit, orange smoke rising from Begg Field.

First responders watched in surprise and delight, initially, as a small hill glowed orange and red - a unique experience, to be sure. But any sense of fun turned to dread and alarm quickly as the earth rumbled deeply around 2:15 a.m., a wide hole opened up, then the earth “punched up, violently,” according to one local fireman, with a loud, explosive sound. As smoking rocks began to land in the area, instantly, alarms went out to all local fire departments, requesting assistance, and local police swarmed surrounding neighborhoods to evacuate homes.

In less than 2 hours, the huge hill had formed, shaking and rumbling while belching volcanic gases, with bubbles of lava and glowing rocks tossed out of the crater’s center. Vast amounts of smoke and steam emerged, but only trickles of lava seemed to run over the top of the crater.

Geologists called to the scene told MB Confidential that the Manhattan Beach volcano looks like an early-stage cinder cone, pushed up by some kind of rapid upward flow of lava, like a “bubble just under the surface,” according to Kim Druyan of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Whether the hill would continue growing into a fuller-fledged volcano, Druyan said, was yet to be determined. Fortunately, the flow of lava, smoke and steam seemed to have stopped just as suddenly as it had begun, by around 7:00 a.m.

Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s local firm, the Boring Company, claimed credit for shutting down the volcano in its infancy.

“Very early this morning, the Boring Company saved Manhattan Beach and surrounding areas from destruction and desolation,” said a company press release. “Our quick action has plugged a dangerous volcanic vent using a special, proprietary mixture of concrete and polymers. We are glad to do our part to protect the South Bay.”

But whistleblowers from the Boring Company have told MB Confidential and other local news agencies that the Manhattan Beach volcano was actually a sort of “industrial accident.”

These sources trace the sudden lava flow back to Musk’s effort to build a secret, high-speed tunnel, known as a hyperloop, from his Hawthorne office direct to the Hermosa Beach pier.

Said one whistleblower, “It’s pretty simple. He loves a particular seafood restaurant at the Hermosa pier, and he hates waiting in traffic. So he was building this direct, underground tunnel without permits, so he could grab dinner now and then at Playa Hermosa. Well, we hit a fault line and opened up a lava vent.”

“The good news,” said the source, ”is that we could stop it. We were prepared. It’s not our first rodeo.”

We asked Musk’s office for comment, and received the following statement: “Any attempt to blame Elon Musk for an act of God is outrageous and libelous and will be pursued vehemently in every legal channel available. The fact is, on this glorious April 1st, Mr. Musk saved your city. Instead of propounding conspiracy theories, the city of Manhattan Beach should be approving the Boring Company’s permits for greater underground travel options for all.”

For the time being, the Manhattan Beach volcano does appear stable. Smoke has ceased emerging from the giant hill, and no earthquakes have been recorded since around 6:55am.

Dr. Druyan, the geologist, said it’s too early to tell whether this is the end of the volcano’s growth. “We have seen little vents like this become 5,000-foot peaks in some areas with greater volcanic activity,” Druyan said. “They can emerge from nowhere and quickly dominate a landscape.”

With that said, Druyan noted, “Manhattan Beach is not generally known to be volcanically active, and we still have to trace the origin of this lava vent,” Dr. Druyan said. “But the way the vent seems to have closed off quickly is encouraging.”

For many local residents, the incident at Begg Field recalled the widely mocked plot of the 1997 disaster movie “Volcano,” starring Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones, in which a sudden surge of lava destroys parts of Los Angeles. Both Heche and Jones refused to comment for this story.

Meantime, Merchant Services, which maintains the city’s fields and parks, issued a statement early this morning. “Once we get the all-clear from the geologists, we’ll work double-time to clear Begg Field and restore it,” Merchant pledged. “How many of us have raised our kids playing softball, baseball, soccer, on this field? The family campout?”

“We’re going to reclaim that field for our city,” said Merchant, “Just say the word. We’ll build Begg back better.”

Nearby residents were given notice last night to evacuate for 48 hours, subject to rolling 24-hour renewals as geologists track the activity around the volcanic hill.

Reached at Terranea, East Manhattan Beach resident Taylor Rand told MB Confidential, “Last night was super scary. But we packed the computers, iPads, kids and dogs and went as far away as we could get safely.”

“We can do work here, and the kids can quote-unquote ‘go to school’ here if we get stuck awhile,” said Rand, “So we can stay a bit while things settle down. More of our friends are coming. It will be a fun Spring Break, and I hear Elon Musk is paying for it all.”

Meanwhile, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department told DigMB that they are investigating reports of “bubbling tar” in one section of the Polliwog Park duck pond. It’s unclear how the suspected tar could be related, if at all, to the volcanic plume at neighboring Begg Field. MBC will have updates throughout the day on April 1 as the situation develops.

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For more on the possible real estate ramifications of the volcano, see this new post.

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