I’m a Geology Nerd. I actually tried to minor in Geology while majoring in Psychology because I enjoyed it so much, but those aren’t conducive degrees to graduating in 4 years, much less the job market to psycho-analyze earthquakes, eruptions, and tsunamis is remarkably thin.
I’m going to shout out all the “credit due” stuff up front, I trolled hard for photos: I got stuff off DIGG.com, LIFE, WIKI, Associated Press, USGS, and of course if someone has their credit in the photo it’s theirs. You may be surprised that finding the sequence by Gary Rosenquist was ridiculously hard and I spent a good 45 minutes trying to find those. Lastly, and never least, the Oatmeal too adds levity to my topic of devastation.
To get started the Chilean Volcano Puyehue started erupting at the end of May and continues to pump out some awesome displays of ash and lightning.
Yo, Puyehue, I’m really happy for you, and I’ma let you finish, but
Eyjafjallajökull had one of the best eruptions of all time! ~quote from random comment guy parody of Kayne West
My best friend, Brenda, experienced the flight delays with the Eyjafjallajökull eruption while she was in England/Ireland. Some of her team though got grounded and went to some pretty extreme lengths to get home.
Clearly someone was having a moment when coming up with names for these volcanoes…
Lets move onto one of my favorite volcano chains, the Hawaiian Islands. You can see them beautifully from GOOGLE Earth, and here is a USGS diagram of their slow NW migration over the hot-spot in the Pacific.
Due to different types of magma that erupts you get different types of volcanoes Hawaii has those really awesome lava plumes and rivers of molten rock as a result (and make what is called a ‘shield’ volcano).
Historically, one of the most awesome explosions was that of Krakatoa. Krakatoa was a three island nest in SE Asia between Java and Sumatra, that is until 1883 when the island obliterated itself into geological confetti in what must have been absolutely one of the most horrific events in recorded history at that time. The explosion could be heard in Perth, Australia.
Above from USGS demonstrates the topographic changes that occurred do to the eruption and what is now a new island forming in the old caldera, Anak Krakatau.
We can see Anak Krakatau (meaning Child of Krakatoa) having new eruptions within the last few years.
All that was jim-dandy, but my personal favorite; due to it figuratively being in my backyard (at least I could see it from my window unlike Sarah Palin’s backyard view of Russia) is Mt. Saint Helens.
On May 18th, 1980 the Mt. Saint Helens eruption equaled 25 megatons of force which was 1,600 times as powerful as the nuclear warhead that was dropped on Hiroshima with a blast radius of over 19 miles. The blast traveled at the speed of sound mowing down acres of forest. The heat of the gases were so intense that even trees that escaped the destruction ended up having their bark singed. The other devastating aspect of the eruption due to the event occurring in spring was the resulting lahars (mudflows); super fast, hot mud/ash flows that combined with the snow and spring run-off that ran many miles down slope and forever changing the landscape, lakes, and creeks in the surrounding area.
Results were devastating and spectacular.
The USGS, of course, not only has TONS of photos since Mt. St. Helens is one of the most heavily studied volcanoes in the world, they also make themselves some handy diagrams. [FF-LOL editor update: I found this video sequence on YouTube from DiscoveryChannel.com that shows the same massive landslide as above from the May 18, 1980 eruption.]
That there is my fast and furious show of some spectacular events for what the Earth has going on under our feet, out our back door, and just over the other hill.