Wednesday, May 18, 2011

31 years later: remembering an angry volcano

When Mount St. Helens exploded into life on May 18, 1980, it was one of the greatest eruptions ever recorded in North America. Superheated ash, gas and lava devastated the surrounding area and claimed many lives. Since then, scientists have been closely monitoring activity around the volcano, waiting for disaster to strike again. So, what other volcanoes around the world have etched their place in history?

World's largest volcanoes
1. Mount Mazama, Crater Lake, Oregon—Over 6,000 years ago Mount Mazama erupted. Before the explosion the mountain was 12,000 feet high; when it was over it had been replaced by a 1,900-foot deep crater. Crater Lake, famed for its intense blue waters, was made a National Park in 1902.
2. Mount Etna, Sicily—Although Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe, its renown comes from its role in Greek legends. According to Greco-Roman mythology, the giants—the enemies of the gods—were buried beneath Mount Etna. In their efforts to break free, the Giants caused frequent earthquakes around the mountain.
3. Mount Vesuvius, Italy—Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 A.D. covered the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, preserving them for generations to come. The volcano is still active and has had several eruptions—the most deadly being in 1631.
4. Mount Tambora, Indonesia—The largest eruption during the last two centuries, as well as the deadliest volcano in recorded history, Mount Tambora exploded April 10-11, 1815. It killed an estimated 92,000 people. Almost 80,000 of the victims died of starvation brought on by the agricultural devastation in the volcano's wake.
5. Mount Krakatau, Indonesia—On August 27, 1883, Mount Krakatau exploded with such force that it was heard in Australia, over 2,000 miles away. The force of the eruption triggered a series of tsunamis that reached the Hawaiian islands and the coast of South America, killing more than 36,000 people.
Do you recall what you were doing when St.Helens blew its top?

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