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Sunday, November 4, 2012
A place you will read about: Mount Katmai a mountain in Alaska.
Something you will read about: algae a group of plants, which usually live in water, that do not have true roots, stems, or leaves.
Following its eruption, Mt. Katmai has become a national monument visited by thousands of tourists. In June 1912, explosions boomed across Alaska. Centering near Mt. Katmai on the upper Alaskan Peninsula, they frightened Eskimos from nearby villages, and not a moment too soon. A new volcano had formed on Mt. Katmai's slope and began to erupt. Tons of ash and rock poured out, spreading an enormous dark cloud across the sky and a blanket of ash over the summer landscape. A cloud of smoke overtook the steamer Dora, at sea 55 miles away, and ashes sifted down on the boat. Soon, those aboard could not see their hands before their faces. Through the gloom, lightning flickered and thunder crashed. A fierce wind began to blow and the temperature rose.
Children in Kodiak, 1912. They're
making volcanic ash pies.
But what happened in the region around Mt. Katmai? No one knew the Eskimos had fled for their lives and did not wish to return.
Not until three years after the event did someone finally undertake to investigate the result of the 1912 eruption. In July of 1915, Dr. Robert Griggs set out with a party of explorers to visit Mt. Katmai. He and his crew made the trip by boat. As they approached Katmai Bay due south of the mountain, they could see that the water was still filled with the floating wreckage of trees and bushes. Over the land, the sky was still dark, filled with ash. The darkness made the barren landscape even more desolate.
Robert Griggs' photo of Katmai
Even solid ground could not be trusted, for ash had fallen on snowfields and then been packed down. Afterward, the snow had melted out from beneath the crust of ash, leaving hollows beneath the valley floor. The explorers knew the ground could collapse beneath their feet at any moment.
As the mountain peaks loomed ahead, Griggs' party came across a fantastic, geological feature - a colossal chasm. It was nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon - 4,000 feet from rim to floor.
The explorers camped and waited for the clouds over Mt. Katmai to move off, for Griggs was determined to see what had happened to Katmai's three-pointed peak. When the sky began to clear, Griggs was astonished to see not a peak but a flattened stub. Mt. Katmai had caved in on itself, becoming shorter by some 800 feet!
Griggs returned again in 1916 for another look. During this expedition, he and his party climbed Mt. Katmai. The mountain was covered by clouds and not until the party had reached the top did the cloud cover thin out. At Mt. Katmai's summit the explorers stopped short, for they were perched on the edge of a huge chasm. In its depths they saw a lake of milky blue cradling a small horseshoe-shaped island. The mountain had a huge hole at its core where solid rock had once been. Now the hole was filling with water from melting snowbanks on its steep sides. The chasm was 4,460 feet deep and three miles long.
The party went around the lake to look down at the valley on the landward side of Mt. Katmai, where a fantastic scene met their gaze. The valley floor was covered with thousands of cracks and vents, and from each a column of steam arose. Some were no more than threads of white, but others roared hundreds of feet into the air. Griggs later wrote, "The whole valley, as far as the eye could reach. was full of hundreds, no thousands ... of smokes, curling up ... Sleep that night was impossible ... I had seen enough to know that we had accidentally discovered one of the great wonders of the world." And so Griggs decided to name the place the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes."
The Valley of 10,000 Smokes
Today, the area surrounding Mt. Katmai, including the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and the cluster of volcanic mountains nearby, has become a national monument. Katmai National Monument covers more than 4,000 square miles, the largest wilderness area in the park system. Much has changed since the Griggs expeditions.
G-23 In the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the "smokes" have all but disappeared, but it is a desolate place still. Layers of yellowish ash have been eroded to form weird, fluted slopes, as if giant's fingers had clawed through an enormous pile of clay. Life is beginning to return to the valley. Mosses, bushes and young trees have sprung up here and there, and visitors to the monument may spot bears, moose and wolves.
The Valley today, at sunset.
If you ever have the opportunity, visit Katmai. You'll find it a fantastic place, where skeleton forests shelter struggling young trees, where the rivers run thick with volcanic ash and the snow slides past steaming vents into a lake at the heart of a mountain. And then, of course, there's always the chance that, as one explorer put it, "Some other mountain will blow up." Perhaps you'll be lucky enough to see it when it does!
1. The explosion on the Alaskan Peninsula was caused by
2. Falling ash made roofs collapse
3. In July of 1915, Dr. Robert Griggs
4. Three years after the eruption, Katmai Valley
5. The chasm discovered in 1915
6. Dr. Griggs found that the three-pointed peak had changed
7. The story of the Mt. Katmai explosion would probably be found in a book about
8. Dr. Griggs traveled to Mt. Katmai
9. Another name for this selection could be
10. This selection is mainly about
Posted by John Robinson at 1:54 PM