Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Things Went Kabloowie

Caption: What Mt. St. Helens looked like in the summer of 1980.

Image credit: Rick Hobbit/USGS

Dana Hunter reminded us today that this is the 31st anniversary of the Mt. St. Helens eruption in southwestern Washington. Following that link will take you to a good description of what happened there, and what it might means.

Still, I thought there was one image I ought to share of it:

That's a screenshot of a TangoGPS image of Mt. St. Helens, using Google's satellite photo data. There's a scale in the lower left hand corner. That mile-wide gash in the north side of the crater was made by that eruption, and much of the whitish scarring is from the hot pyroclastic flow that erupted out of it.

The scale of that eruption, compared to anything most of us have experienced, is mind boggling. Yet it was, by historical standards, a pretty minor eruption.

When people like Ron Paul pontificate about how disaster relief isn't a proper role of government, imagine if something like the Yellowstone Caldera were to erupt today. There is no place in America that is safe from all forms of disaster, and there is nearly always a potential danger that local citizens can't have the resources to prepare for.

Thinking otherwise demonstrates a profound ignorance about the world we live in.

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