Happy Birthday Novarupta
June 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century-Novarupta. Located on the Alaska Peninsula within what is now Katmai National Park, Novarupta's eruption was thirty times larger than the 1980 eruption, lasting for 60 hours and sending ash upward for 20 miles. Winds deposited volcanic ash over Kodiak over a foot deep and carried the ash as far away as Africa. Material from the eruption covered the immediate area around Novarupta up to 700 feet deep, yet few outside Alaska knew what had happened. In 1916, a National Geographic expedition led by Robert Griggs explored this area and named the remarkable landscape "The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." This became the impetus behind designation of Katmai National Monument in 1918. The monument was later expanded and became a national park in 1980. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a remote area that may be accessed from Brooks Camp, and is a popular backpacking destination with challenging river crossings and frequent gale-force winds.
Today, volcanoes are monitored by the United States Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). Seismic equipment placed strategically throughout the Alaska Peninsula relays information that aids in prediction of future volcanic events. A number of events commemorating the eruption of Novarupta are taking place this year.
A current list of events can be found here. (pdf, 1.31mb)
Did You Know?
Katmai's Novarupta eruption was the largest eruption in the 20th century and is one of the five largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history (from Alaska Volcano Observatory, 2001).