The Galeras volcano is in Colombia, and on a fateful day in 1993, it caught many scientists and tourists milling around its crater-rim by surprise with a little mini-eruption. I, too, remember reading the horrific accounts:
“I heard this huge boom, and then rocks the size of televisions started falling around us,” recalled Dr. Andrew McFarlane, a geologist at Florida International University who had got beyond the crater. Dr. McFarlane suffered a broken foot, bruises on his legs and badly burned hands from climbing over burning rocks.
Dr. Williams, fleeing the crater’s rim, pounded by flying rocks, ran as far as he could down the volcanic slope before his broken legs gave way. He took shelter from the weakening eruption behind large rocks. After an hour, a second volcanic blast hurled aloft new boulders that he successfully dodged.’
Dr. Stanley Williams led the party that day, and wrote a book entitled ‘Surviving Galeras‘ in its wake about continuing to press-on despite the tragedy. Excerpt from his book here. Fascinating reading.
Remarkably, like the predictability of extreme weather events, understanding of what helps cause volcanic eruptions is getting much better due to the work of vulcanologists everywhere.
*As a side note…I remember standing across from the Mt. St Helens crater at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, witnessing the scope of destruction some 30 years on, feeling a sense of awe, fascination, a desire for more knowledge, mixed with fear and continuing thoughts at my own sudden smallness and cosmic insignificance when measured against such forces. It can be humbling.
***My uncle tells a story about passing north on I-5 over the Toutle River bridge some days afterwards, and seeing a horse carcass, upright and stuck in the volcanic mud and ash-flow that flowed down from the mountain.
That image has stuck with me.
I found a few Flickr photos of debris in that area.
It occurred at approximately 10:35 a.m. PST. A list of responders of those who felt it and their distance from the epicenter. They don’t think that it was related to volcanic activity.
Also On This Site: From YouTube Via Sound Politics: NASA-Mt St Helens: Thirty Years Later…Seattle Earthquake-January 30th 2009-4.5 On The Richter Scale…From The New Scientist: ‘Giant Crack Formed In Just Days’…
Mt St. Helens National Monument is still definitely worth a trip. The crater is active, and the size and scope of the blast is awe inspiring. 57 people lost their lives and many others were affected for years to come.
Here’s what I think is some of the best footage of the towering ash cloud and force of the blast, and what might go through a man’s mind as something like that happens: Dave Crockett from Komo4 news was there. The Elk herds in the North Fork Toutle River Valley are coming back strong and the recovery of life after the eruption is potentially the most carefully studied in human history. The Johnston Ridge Observatory is among the best of our National Park System, and they have some volcano cams.
Brief timeline here, as the mountain gave many signs of impending activity.
Related On This Site: Seattle Earthquake-January 30th 2009-4.5 On The Richter Scale