Saturday, May 26, 2012

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

No one alive remembers an eruption as massive as the Novarupta-Katmai Eruption of 1912. The Novarupta-Katmai eruption was the largest volcanic eruption of the Twentieth Century. This massive volcanic event occurred in Alaska in an area that was later named Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
No one living today can recall a volcanic eruption of such magnitude, or of such potential disruption to human safety and systems, and yet we know that many volcanic complexes in the United States and around the globe are capable of someday erupting similar or larger volumes of molten rock and ash.
~Marcia McNutt, USGS Director
The site has been preserved since 1980 by the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

Katmai Calder - Mount Katmai, Alaska
In June of 1912, glowing hot pumice and ash spewed from the Novarupta-Katmai volcano. It flowed over terrain destroying life in its path. The ash, pumice, and gas ejected cast a haze-darkened sky over most of the Northern Hemisphere.

The Novarupta-Katmai eruption:
  • Was ten times more forceful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
  • Buried more than 40 square miles in volcanic deposits as much as 700 feet deep. 
  • Spewed 7 cubic miles of ash as far as the Mediterranean Sea. 
  • Caused an acid rain that disintegrated clothes on clotheslines as far away as Vancouver, Canada.
  • Reduced visibility 100 miles away in Kodiak, Alaska where for two days a person could not see a lantern held at arm's length. 

The volume of ash ejected by Novarupta-Katmai, if concentrated in one place, would be enough to bury the city of Anchorage 3 miles deep.

Volcanology is the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related phenomena. The term volcanology comes from the Latin word vulcanus
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Vulcan is the god of beneficial and hindering fire, including the fire of volcanoes. 
At the time of the Novarupta-Katmai eruption in 1912, the study of volcanic eruptions was in its infancy. Researchers had few points of comparison. Field investigations of the Katmai site provided key insights that contributed to advances in volcanology. Novarupta-Katmai has been one of the most studied eruptions in the world.

I have seen so many eruptions in the last 20 years that I don't care if I die tomorrow.
~Maurice Krafft, Volcanologist, on the day before he was killed on Unzen Volcano, Japan 1991.


Alaska Volcano Observatory - Katmai Reported Activity.
Alaska Volcano Observatory - The Great Katmai Eruption of 1912: A Century of Research Tracks Progress in Volcano Science.
USGS - The Novarupta-Katmai Eruption of 1912—Largest Eruption of the Twentieth Century: Centennial Perspectives.
Wikipedia - Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Wikipedia - Vulcan (mythology).
Wikipedia - Volcanology.