Large volcanic eruptions 1800–present in the United States*
*as delineated by its current international and state boundaries
1800 — Mount St. Helens (Washington) The eruption was seen by Native Americans. Oral tradition of NE Washington tribes noted many people starved to death the winter following the eruption.
1812 — Augustine Volcano (Alaska) Augustine has had six significant eruptions: 1812, 1883–1884, 1935, 1963–1964, 1976, and 1986. The 1883 eruption produced a tsunami.
1825 — Isanotski Peaks (Alaska) Also known as Isanotski Volcano, locally as “Ragged Jack,” is a multi-peaked mountain on Unimak Island, the easternmost Aleutian Island. Other … » More …
When the sky fell
Mount St. Helens: The aftermath and lessons learned
The sky was falling. And Richard “Dick” Mack gathered a group of graduate students to help collect it. In the first few days after Mount St. Helens erupted—sending some 540 million tons of ash over an area of 22,000 square miles—the WSU ecology professor was already thinking of its potential research value.
Mack‚ now a professor emeritus in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, spent the summer of 1980 doing field work between Pullman and Vantage, studying the effects of the ash on vegetation—particularly native plants, such as certain willows and grasses. For about five years or so after that, he and … » More …
In the Path of Destruction: Eyewitness Chronicles of Mount St. Helens
WSU Press, 2014
Like the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, the personal stories of campers, loggers, airline pilots, Forest Service workers, and geologists came pouring out before, during, and after the cataclysm. One of those geologists, Richard Waitt, gathered anecdotes and recollections of the volcanic eruption over the course of three decades, now compiled in this tome.
Waitt blends his own scientific expertise as a researcher who had been on the mountain since its early rumblings with hundreds of eyewitness … » More …
A true story fraught with peril
As disaster-obsessed scientists go, geologists must be near the top of the list. They deal with time scales spanning billions of years, so a set of catastrophes occurring 10 million years ago is like yesterday. Something in the last century comes close to being, well, now.
And they see catastrophe all over the place.
Take the roadcut near the Old Moscow Road. It’s a modest pile of crumbling rock, but John Wolff and Rick Conrey can see in its surrounding rock a thick blanket of hot lava inundating southeast Washington.
“It covers an area that goes from here to Spokane to The Dalles, buried at … » More …
A New Land
John Bishop was late getting to Mount St. Helens.
He was only 16 years old when it blew in 1980, and it would be another decade before he began crawling around the mountain as part of his doctoral studies.
“I was worried I missed all the action—‘Ten years, it’s all been studied,’” he recalls.
It turns out the dust, pumice, and other ejecta were only beginning to settle, and the mountain would continue to rumble, spit, and recover. In 1994, he found himself running from a mudflow, then watched as it moved fridge-sized boulders and shook the earth beneath his feet. Arriving at WSU Vancouver … » More …
Mount St. Helens: The perfect laboratory
Puff Volcanic Ash Tracking Model
Click on an initial eruption height below to watch a predictive ash dispersion animation based on current atmospheric conditions.
The Puff model is a volcanic ash tracking model developed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It has been supported by University of Alaska Fairbanks and its Geophysical Institute, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Click here to go directly to the UAF Puff Web site where you can track ash for other Pacific Rim volcanoes including Washington’s Mount St. Helens.
Also on this site you can find ash tracking 3D simulations using … » More …
When Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano rumbled to life this past spring, images of the plume of ash rising from it probably revived terrifying memories among 240 people who survived its last eruption in 1989.
They’d been passengers on KLM flight 867, a Boeing 747 bound for Anchorage. Ten hours after the volcano erupted, the plane flew through an ordinary-looking cloud. Except it wasn’t a cloud. It was ash from the Redoubt eruption.
The plane lost all communications, radar, electronic cockpit displays—and, within the span of one minute, all four engines. It plunged almost 15,000 feet before the crew managed to restart three of the engines. … » More …