The Other Side of Novarupta

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For 60 hours on June 6-8, 1912, Novarupta volcano in Katmai National Park spewed a massive amount (3 cubic miles) of magma out its vent, causing the biggest eruption of the 20th and 21st (so far) centuries. In 2009, myself and some other adventurers traveled to the site of the Novarupta lava dome and surrounding Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. You can watch a YouTube video of our adventure here:

What most visitors to Katmai National Park see is what we saw in 2009, although only a few dozen adventurers hike out to Novarupta. However, there is another side to Novarupta, that few have ever seen, and in 2011 we set out to explore this mysterious place.

The explosion of Novarupta was heard over 750 miles away in Juneau, AK! When Novarupta blew, a magma chamber under Mount Katmai drained, leaving a void that caused the top of Mt. Katmai to collapse. This was about 1 cubic mile of material that fell over 1,000 feet into the void. With cataclysms of such incredible magnitude occurring in such a short period, it is not hard to understand that entire mountains were shaking and falling apart. And that is what is in the image below, the jagged leftovers of a huge piece of Noisy Mountain that came sliding down into the valley, and was later cut through by the Katmai River.  Click on the image to enlarge, and note the conical piles which are characteristic of landslide debris.

Katmai River cuts through a landslide from Noisy Mountain. Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

That’s all for now, more will be coming soon of this amazing part of God’s creation!

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