Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 6, 2013
Novarupta lava dome

Novarupta lava dome

June 6, 1912: Novarupta becomes active, the name itself means “new eruption.” The volcano is located in the Aleutian Range in Alaska, about 290 miles southwest of Anchorage. The volcano spewed 3.6 cubic miles or 15 cubic kilometers of material from June 6-8. It was the largest eruption of the 20th century. The 1815 eruption of Tambora was seven times larger and Krakatoa in 1883 was twice as large. Today, the volcano is listed as Caldera type with lava dome.

The magma was drained from Mount Katmai and shunted to Novarupta. The lava dome formed after two-and-a-half days and plugged the volcano. The Pyroclastic flow (superheated [1,800º F] gas and rocks traveling at speed [up to 50 mph]) formed the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The valley was named by Robert F. Griggs in 1916. He was exploring the area in the aftermath of the volcano for the National Geographic Society. Today, the area is protected by the Katmai National Park and Preserve. The park itself covers 7,383 square miles, about the size of Wales. It is famous both for this volcanic valley as well as for brown bears living in the area.

There are about 1,500 active volcanoes worldwide. About 75% of them are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire – an area from New Zealand, around the eastern edge of Asia, containing the Aleutian Islands and the western coast of North and South America. The US has 52 active volcanoes, 43 of them in Alaska. The most notorious recent volcano in the US was the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. That volcano was only one-tenth as strong as Novarupta.

The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is like the Richter Scale for earthquakes. It allows for comparisons of the volatility and magnitude of volcanic eruptions. The VEI scale goes from 0-8. All VEI 8 eruptions occurred in ancient history – the most recent was more than 26,500 years ago. There have been 8 VEI 7 volcanoes in the last 10,000 years and 39 VEI 6 in that same time period. The last VEI 6 volcano was Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” – George Washington Carver

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” – Charles A. Lindbergh

“I’m really interested in conveying sort of a spiritual connection with nature in my work, … It’s about Mother Nature and the protective element. Of course, nature can be extremely threatening as well.” – Amy Fisher

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Katmai National Park and Preserve was established on December 2, 1980 as a national park. The park is named after Mount Katmai rather than the nearest city which is King Salmon about 290 miles away. After being designated as a national monument, it was largely ignored until the 1950s. In its wild state, sockeye salmon abounded and also the brown bears that fed on the salmon as well as much other wildlife both on land and in the water. After a series of boundary growth-spurts, the 4,093,077 acres were made a national park by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. There are at least 18 individual volcanoes within the park, seven of them active since 1900. The last eruption within the park took place in 2006 at Fourpeaked Mountain.

Also on this day: Not the Village People – In 1844 the YMCA was founded.
Camden, New Jersey – In 1933, the first drive-in theater opened.
Maxwell Got Smart – In 1925, Maxwell Motor Company reorganized.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on June 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Another example of quotes from famous people who did not care at all about the subject of the story. Who would care considering that the volcano might as well be on another planet or another solar system?

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