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Mount Rainier National Park

A Magical Place in the World

The Mount Rainier National Park can be found in Washington State, near Pierce County. It can be found just north east of Lewis County and was known as a national Park on the 2nd of March 1899. This was known as the fifth national park created in America and there are almost 236,381 acres of land within the park also. This land covers the high range of Mount Rainier; and the mountain has a variety of elevations from 1600 feet to around 14000 feet also.

The volcano found on the mountain range is almost covered with clouds; this means there is a huge amount of snow and rain that falls onto the peaks of the mountains every year. The Wonderland Trail circles Mount Rainier and is also covered by a lot of different glaciers and snowfields also. Over 1.8 million people go to the park each and every year and love to see Emmons Glacier and Carbon Glacier also.

The History of Mount Rainier National Park

Very high percentage of the entire park is considered to be protected and is preserved as wilderness. This is done under the National Wilderness preservation system; and these parts including Mount Rainier Wilderness and the Clearwater Wilderness. In 1997, on the 18th of February, the park was proclaimed a national historic landmark.

Mount Rainier National Park Facts
Christine falls near Mount Rainier

However, in 2012, on the 1st of January, the Park Ranger – Margaret Anderson – was shot and killed while attempting to stop a passing vehicle. The perpetrator Benjamin Colton Barnes hid in the park; and the authorities were on hand to close the park down. This resulted in manhunt throughout the entire park but the suspect’s body was found the next day. It was a sad day for the park as nothing like this had happened before.

The Native American Settlers and the History

It is thought that the earliest signs of life in the park were with Native Americans; and this was thought to be around 4000 years ago. The first signs were at the Bench Lake Trail; and for many years there have been many explorations of the park along Fryingpan Creek and Goat Island Mountain also. More and more want to know about this area and of the history of the park also. In one shelter found, there were hunting artefacts found but this shelter would not have been used during the entire year.

However, the park does have a national forest area within the park. In 1893, the Pacific Forest Reserve was created and that did include Mount Rainier also; the forest did get bigger however as the years went. There has been a lot of work gone into trying to ensure the park is preserved and is protected. Throughout the years, there has been a lot of work that has gone into making sure the forests are protected as well as the entire park. Thousands do a lot of work to protect the park and it is certainly very popular also.

The Mount Rainier National Park had to be closed down for a huge amount of time because of the flood which hit the park. In one part of the park, in late 2006, the Pineapple Express rainstorm brought down almost eighteen inches of rain water to the park. This all fell within 36 hours and a lot of the roads and camp grounds in the park were actually washed away.

The Major Attractions in the Park

The Park was named a National Historic Landmark district in 1997; and there are many amazing locations that are found within the park also. There are at least 42 different locations in the park that are found on the National Register of Historic Places and some are considered to be historical landmarks also. One of the biggest attractions is Paradise. There was no power in the Longmire and Paradise regions; however in 2007, on the 5th of May, the park was reopened for all vehicle traffic – this was only by Route 706.

Paradise covers around five thousand and four hundred feet in land; this is going to be on the south slope of Mount Rainier. This area is one of the very popular locations to visit today. Of the 1.3 million people who visit the park each year, almost 60% of all visitors are going to visit Paradise. The Paradise Guide House was founded in 1920 and in 1966; Henry M Jackson Visitor Center was built. This building was knocked down and rebuilt in 2008.

There is also Longmire. Longmire is a great visitor’s center and is located between the Tatoosh Range and the Ramparts Ridge. This is the place where western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir are found. This is going to be one of the most popular areas of the park today, it’s the second most visited spots and almost 40% of visitors are found here each year.

Mount Rainier national park information
Mount Rainier National Park landscape

Sunrise is also an amazing place to visit. This is a beautiful lodge and visitor’s center found towards the north east region of the park; and to access the park, visitors will need to use a vehicle to reach there. There is however a miles and miles of trails found around Sunrise; these include the Sourdough Ridge and the Mount Fremont also.

The Mowich Lake is going to be the deepest and biggest lake throughout the park today. This is going to be found near the Carbon on highway 165. There are also a hiking trail, camp ground and a picnic area close to the lake also.

With the 2006 floods, the 2 major roads were damaged severely; this was in the North West part of the park. During the summer months, the Carbon River Ranger Station is fully staffed; however no cars or any type of motor vehicles are going to be allowed to go past this part of the park.

The park is a very popular destination for many to choose from and it certainly is going to be a location where millions visits each year. It’s amazing.

Location

Types of Volcanoes

 

One of the reasons that volcanoes are so fascinating is that you could find many different types of volcanoes. The volcanoes can be classified according to their shape, size, dome and even their location. There are other aspects that can also affect the classification of the types of volcanoes found on Earth like the structure of the volcano and if there are any vents or fissure that allow air. Some of those volcanoes are not known for their features but for the type of eruption they will have. Here are some of the volcano types that you will find and how to recognize them.

Fissure Vent

A fissure vent or volcanic fissure is a linear vent on the ground of a volcanic area where lava can erupt from. Usually the lava eruption from a fissure vent will not be an explosive one. The size of the vent is not something that is standard as some can be as small as a few meters wide, but the length can be several kilometers. These types of volcanoes can be very difficult to recognize unless you know that you are standing over it as it is mostly flat. There is no central caldera to these volcanoes and the fissures can be covered up when lava cools down.

Shield Volcano

Shield volcanoes are types of volcanoes which are formed due to several lava flows which eventually give them the shape of a warrior’s shield. These volcanoes are not the tall mountains that you expect to see when you think of a volcano, but rather low profile structures that look more like a small hill than a full mountain. The summit of these volcanoes is usually flat whole the width can be very big. Usually the height of a shield volcano will be just 1/20th of the total volcano’s width.

Lava Dome

A lava dome is a circular volcanic formation which happens due to the viscous lava slow movement. Its shape happens because of the viscosity of the material coming out of the volcano. The domes are very common in volcanic areas and while they are not the awesome show that a volcanic explosion would be it is still something to be admired. Another reason that they form is that there usually is not enough pressure for an massive explosion which means that there could be some sort of vent allowing the gases to escape the structure.

Stratovolcano

A stratovolcano is recognized mostly because of its shape and size. These types of volcanoes tend to be very tall and conical. Their composition will also help you recognize them as they are made of a hardened lava layer, volcanic ash and tephra. Their profile is steep and the lava that shoots out of these types of volcanoes tends to be very viscous and because of that the cooling of the lava will be done quicker than in other volcanoes meaning that the flow will not get too far away. It is not rare for the stratovolcano to be very tall with a lot of them exceeding 2500 meters.

Because of their shape and height a lot of these types of volcanoes have become very famous. One of the most recognized volcanoes that fall under this category is Mount Fuji in Japan. Mount Vesuvius is another highly recognized and extremely famous stratovolcano. Stromboli is another very famous active volcano that falls under the same category. These volcanoes are famous not only because of their shape but also because of the damage they have caused in the past and the possibility that they will cause severe damage in the future as well.

Supervolcano

The supervolcano is out of all types of volcanoes the one that could cause the most damage. Some scientists predict that an eruption of a supervolcano today could in fact end life in the planet due to the massiveness of the eruption. The problem with that prediction is that there have been such eruptions in the past and there will be another one in the future. The last eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano is believed to have caused the last ice age and that killed several species. If that were to happen today it could mean a world-wide food shortage that would lead to the starvation of those that survived the eruption and the ash.

The supervolcanoes are ranked by the Volcano Eruption Index and they usually fall under the VEI 7 and the VEI 8 Rankings. There have been a total of VEI 8 eruptions in the history of the planet, five of which have taken place in the United States area. There are currently six famous supervolcanoes in the world, and they are the Yellowstone Caldera in the US, The Long Valley Caldera in the US, the Valles Caldera also in the US, Lake Toba in Indonesia, the Taupo Caldera in New Zealand and the Aira Caldera in Japan.

Submarine Volcano

A submarine volcano is a fissure which can be found under water from which there can be an eruption of magma. It has been calculated that up to 75% of the magma output each year comes from these types of volcanoes. Most of these volcanoes are found close to areas where tectonic movement takes place. Those areas are called ocean ridges. Most of these volcanoes are very deep in the ocean, but there are a few of them which can also be found very close to the surface of the water. Because of the depth of some submarine volcanoes they can be very hard to detect.

Subglacial Volcano

A subglacial volcano or glaciovolcano is one that takes place under the surface of the glacier and in some cases under the ice sheet. These types of volcanoes will quickly create a lake due to the fact that the hot lava will melt the ice very fast. The places with the most subglacial volcanoes are Antarctica and Iceland, but they can also be found in Yukon and British Columbia in Canada.

The subglacial volcano is very similar to the submarine volcano because they will both cool the magma quickly creating very similar reactions on the surface. The areas close to a subglacial volcano can be affected by flooding because of the displacement of the water during the eruption and the additional volcanic material which is released. Theoretically an eruption that was massive enough could cause a tsunami to take place.

Mud Volcano

A mud volcano is a very different thing from a regular volcano, but the concept can be similar. These types of volcanoes are also called mud domes and they form by pressure from gases and liquids. The hot water and the mud mix with surface deposits and that is what pushes the surface up. Currently there are 1100 such structures identified, but more are always a possibility especially in subduction zones. Generally these volcanoes will indicate that there may be a petroleum deposit or that there is a volcano nearby.

If a volcano is close to a mud volcano then most of the gas leaving the structure will be Helium, while those that do not have a volcano nearby will emit mostly methane. Current estimates that would take into account the mud volcanoes not found yet, would have the total amount at over 10,000.

 

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Mount Rainier Volcano

 

If you were ever to visit or move to Seattle you would notice the tallest peak in the Cascade Mountains and that is Mount Rainier. Though it looks like a very tall mountain it is actually an active volcano. The Mount Rainier Volcano is the 21st in the list of the most prominent mountains in the world and it stands at 13,211 feet from its low point. It is also the most prominent mountain found in the lower continental United States. From peak of the Mount Rainier Volcano you can actually see another famous volcano in the area which is Mount St. Helens and you can also get a good look at Mount Adams, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Mount Hood.

Activity

The Mount Rainier Volcano is what is known as a giant stratovolcano and though it looks quiet it is still considered an active volcano. The last eruption from Mount Rainier took place in 1894 and it has been determined that the volcano has erupted at least a dozen times in 2,600 years. Its largest eruption took place close to 2,200 years ago. Due to the fact that the Mount Rainier Volcano is considered an active volcano there are several smaller high frequency tremors in the area. A lot of times the tremors take place every day. Each month there is a possibility of as many as five quakes taking place at the summit. According to scientists studying the mountain those earthquakes take place due to fluids which circulate inside Mount Rainier.

Craters

The Mount Rainier Volcano has two volcanic craters that overlap at the summit. Each one of these craters is over 1,000 feet around. There is also a small crater lake that can be found and that is 130 feet long and it has a 16 foot depth. This lake is the highest one in the continent when it comes to crater lakes. However, that lake is underneath 100 feet of ice and you can only reach it by going through a network of caves made of ice.

Dangers

The main danger that the Mount Rainier Volcano presents is that it is very close to a highly populated area. The Seattle-Tacoma region could be in grave danger should the volcano erupt again. At the moment scientists do not believe that there will be an eruption anytime soon but that could change as after all it is an active volcano. The population from both Seattle and Tacoma, in addition to the surrounding areas, adds up to close to 3.2 million people and evacuation would present challenges. Another problem is that the volcano is covered with ice. Because of that the USGS (US Geological Survey) has called Mount Rainier “potentially the most dangerous” volcano in the mainland US.

If an eruption took place at the Mount Rainier Volcano the ice on top could create lahars which are a volcanic mudflow that happens when rocks, lava and gas melt ice and create superheated slurry. When an eruption took place 5,600 years ago two of these giant lahars made their way and reached Puget Sound which pushed out the shoreline several miles. That possible danger is what makes Mount Rainier one of only two Decade volcanoes in the US.

Predictions

One of the best tools which geologists and other scientists have to predict volcanic activity is historic data. Unfortunately the Mount Rainier Volcano has not been very predictable. In fact, it could be called erratic for at least 1,000 years. Even so there are few volcanoes in the United States that are more monitored than Mount Rainier. The monitoring of Mount Rainier is done by the United States Geological Survey together with the University of Washington. Any potential hazards from the volcano’s activity will be assessed by those two entities. There are also plans to minimize any population growth in the area wherever it is possible, especially within the hazard zones. A response plan has been developed but due to the vast amount of people in the area it can be hard to put in place.

Facts About Mount Rainier

The name of the Mount Rainier Volcano was given by George Vancouver and it was in honor of Admiral Peter Rainier. There is a Native American name for Mount Rainier and that is Tahoma which means “the mountain that was God.” The peak of the mountain was not reached until August of 1870 by Hazard Stevens and by P. B. Van Trump. The area was designated a National Park in 1899 and every year 2 million people visit the area. Though it looks very close to Seattle it is actually located 87 miles away. Tacoma is a bit closer at only 65 miles and several smaller towns are even closer. Though the volcano is not considered very active at the moment other eruptions in other areas in the world are giving scientists clues about what to expect from Mount Rainier.

Location Map

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Mount St.Helens Volcano

 

Mount St. Helens is found in Skamania County in Washington State and is one of the active stratovolcanoes of the world. Its location in Skamania County puts it 50 miles to the northeast of Portland and 96 miles to the south of Seattle. This volcano is part of the Cascade Range and during the current Holocene period, it has actually been the most active in this range. In addition to being the most active, scientists predict that it is the most likely to erupt of all of the volcanoes found in the United States. The volcano has an elevation of 8,363 feet and contains a horseshoe-shaped crater which developed during its most famous eruption in 1980.

Early History

Mount St. Helens has been active for around 275,000 years during which time it has experienced all sorts of volcanic activity ranging from quiet lava outpourings to violent explosive eruptions. During the previous few thousand years Mount St. Helens finally reached the elevation of 8363 feet (before had 9,677 feet) which made it the fifth tallest peak in Washington. It reached its current height after the eruption in 1980 due to an avalanche.

Volcanologists have divided the volcano’s activity into four stages: Ape Canyon (275 – 35 thousand years ago), Cougar (28 – 18 thousand years ago), Swift Creek (16 – 12.8 thousand years ago) and Spirit Lake (3.9 thousand years ago – present). Because each stage changes the composition of the volcano, destroying evidence of previous stages in the process, more is known about the more recent stages than the older ones.

Semi-Recent Eruptive Periods

The Sugar Bowl Eruptive Period took place between 850 and 900 and during this time, three lava domes developed on Mount St. Helens’ flanks. Despite these additions, there was no significant change to the volcano’s appearance during this period.

The Kalama Eruptive Period took place between 1479 and 1720 and this period is when Mount St. Helens achieved its pre-1980 height and form as around 1,600 feet of elevation were added to the volcano during this period. In the beginning of this period there were two large and explosive eruptions which took place in the years 1479 and 1482, a rare phenomenon as those dates are very close together. The early part of this period also produced many pyroclastic flows and lahars. The middle phase began around 1510 and during this point there were few lava flows but many pyroclastic flows. The Summit Dome grew during the late phase of the Kalama Period at Mount St. Helens and most likely took around 100 years to be created.

The Goat Rocks Eruptive Period at Mount St. Helens took place from 1800 to 1857 and this is when the Floating Island, a lava flow in 1801, was created. Scientists believe that the last significant eruption during this period (and in fact until 1980) took place in 1857 although there minor explosions in 1898, 1903 and 1921.

1980 Eruption

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 is probably the most well-known for this volcano. The first eruption in that group occurred on March 27th and was the first in more than 100 years. Eruptions continued, occurring about once an hour during March and going down to about once a day by the 22nd of April. Eruptions then paused until May 7th at which point small eruptions occurred until the 17th. Mount St. Helens had experienced over 10,000 earthquakes, causing the north flank to grow about 250 feet. This bulge kept growing, indicating a pool of magma that would erupt in the future.

The magnitude 5.1 earthquake mentioned above occurred on May 18th at which point both the summit and the northern bulge became a large landslide. This was in fact the largest avalanche of debris ever recorded in Earth’s history with a total volume of around 3.3 billion cubic yards. The landslide removed the northern flank of Mount St. Helens which in turn triggered a huge lateral blast of hot debris that traveled at around 300 miles per hour. The change in pressure caused a 9 hour long eruption that included a tall eruption column as well as many pyroclastic flows and a great deal of ash fall. The eruption also created lahars (volcanic mudflows) when the snow and ice that had topped the volcano melted and mixed with the volcanic debris.

Mount St. Helens – Future Eruptions

Although this volcano is the most likely one in the Cascades to erupt again within our lifetime, experts do not believe it will be as damaging as the eruption of 1980. They do not think that a lateral blast or such a large avalanche of debris is likely. The main hazards for renewed activity on the volcano are lahars, explosive eruptions causing pyroclastic flows and a continuation of the growth of the lava-dome. Because scientists are not able to predict the next eruption very far in advance, they are keeping close tabs on the volcano using a wide range of geological equipment.

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Mount Vesuvius Volcano

 

Mount Vesuvius is one of the most well-known volcanoes around the world with most of its fame coming from its eruption in 79 A.D. that completely buried the city of Pompeii. The volcano is located in Italy in the Gulf of Naples and is one of the volcanoes making up the Campanian volcanic arc. This volcano is in fact the only volcano located in Europe’s mainland that is active and measures at 1,281 meters tall.

Plate Tectonics

As mentioned above, Mount Vesuvius is one of the volcanoes found in the Campanian volcanic arc. Some of the others volcano also found in this arc are Stromboli, Vulcano, Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) and Mount Etna. These volcanoes are all part of the same subduction zone which was created by the Eurasian and African tectonic plates converging.

First Recorded Eruption

One of the main reasons Mount Vesuvius is so famous is that it is actually one of the first volcanoes to have an eruption described in detail. During the eruption in 79 A.D., Pliny the Younger saw the volcanic eruption from his location in Misenum, around 18 miles away. A short time later, he wrote about what he saw, giving us an early written record of volcanic eruptions. He described the eruption as a large cloud resembling a tree, complete with a trunk and branches of smoke and ash. Pliny the Younger is actually the namesake of the term Plinian which geologists use to describe eruptions that are similar to the one in 79 A.D. in that they are violent and produce a large volume of quickly-expanding gases, ash and rock.

The eruption Pliny the Younger saw occur in 79 A.D. is the famous eruption that completely covered the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Historians estimate that this eruption may have killed over 16,000 people. The main cause of death during this eruption was due to suffocation on the volcanic ash. The most interesting part about this famous Mount Vesuvius eruption is that due to the hot ash in the air, casts were formed which preserved the deceased in great detail. The only hints that the eruption was to come were a few days before when the underground water sources ran dry and a minor earthquake occurred.

Sunset at Pompeii
Vesuvio volcano, Italy.

Volcanic Activity

In the previous 17,000 years, Mount Vesuvius has had 8 major eruptions, including the one in 79 A.D. Around 3,780 years ago, the Avellino eruption occurred which not only caught the residents of surrounding areas by surprise but was powerful enough to cause the surrounding area (thousands of miles of it) to become desert for over 200 years.

Immediately after the eruption in 79 A.D., the volcano erupted around every 100 years until 1037, at which point it temporarily stopped. This long period of quiet caused its eruption in 1631 to kill 4,000 people in the area.

More recently Mount Vesuvius erupted on April 7, 1906, the eruption which ejected the highest amount of lava ever to be recorded from this volcano. This eruption killed 100 people and completely changed the plans for the Summer Olympics of 1908. The most recent major eruption occurred on March 18, 1944 and destroyed several nearby villages, killing 26 people.

The Volcano Today

Mount Vesuvius and its surrounding area is a national park and is open to visitors. There are several paths around it including access to the summit. Despite the imminent eruption, visiting the site should be safe as scientists expect to have warning prior to the next eruption.

Today there are 18 towns found around the base of Mount Vesuvius and together these contain 600,000 people, all living within the red zone. This zone is in the direct line of fire in case an eruption occurs and would see most of the damage.

What Would Happen In An Eruption?

Scientists have measured that Mount Vesuvius currently sits on top of a larger layer of magma that lies deep inside the earth and is 154 square miles, which is a very large amount of magma compared to other volcanoes around the world. In addition, scientists believe that the next eruption, like the one in 79 A.D. will be a Plinian eruption, meaning that it can contain flying ash and rock that reaches speeds of around 100 mph. Because of its proximity to Naples and the large number of people living nearby, an eruption could put over 3 million people at risk.

Due to new technology, the Italian government hopes to have two weeks to 20 days warning before the next eruption, hopefully providing enough time to put their evacuation plan into effect and save all of the people living in the area. Despite this, they are aware of the dangers for the people around the volcano and have offered to pay them to move out of the area, although few people have taken them up on their offer.

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Stratovolcano

 

Stratovolcanoes, or composite volcanoes, are similar to cinder cone volcanoes in terms of their shape, but that is one of their few similarities. These volcanoes have gentle lower slopes but much steeper upper slopes, creating an upwardly concave cone and generally have many distinct vents. The summit crater of these volcanoes is usually relatively small.

Despite their general shape, there are some variations within stratovolcanoes due to various composition and types of eruptions. For example some of these volcanoes may have features such as calderas or amphitheaters due to past lateral blasts, such as you can see with Mount St. Helens.

These volcanoes generally take between tens of thousands and several hundred thousand years to form. Most of the stratovolcanoes in the world that are currently active are less than 100,000 years old but some are much older, possibly over a million, such as Mount Rainier.

Eruptions

Stratovolcanoes are one of the most deadly types of volcanoes and their most common type of eruption is Plinian, which is highly explosive and dangerous. These eruptions will generally produce pyroclastic flows containing toxic gases and hot volcanic fragments that move at very fast speeds. Stratovolcanoes can erupt any variety of magma types with levels of basalt, andesite, dacite or rhyolite, but most of the time the lava cools and then hardens before it spreads very far, meaning that they will generally have a narrower base than other types, such as shield volcanoes. Unlike several other types of volcanoes, a stratovolcano usually has a large rest between eruptions.

Chilean Andes

Nevado Ojos del Salado is the highest volcano on earth. This Chilean stratovolcano rises to 6,887 meters above sea level. Close to it, also in the Chilean Andes, is Llullaillaco which is the tallest volcano to have eruptions in recorded history, measuring 6,739 meters. Nevado Ojos del Salado has a crater lake at around 6,390 meters above sea level, which is one of the highest lakes in the world, if not the highest. Scientists believe that the most recent eruption took place about 1,300 years ago, but are not positive. There is a possibility that the volcano emitted a small bit of ash in 1993 which would make it historically active and the tallest historically active volcano instead of Llullaillaco.

Llullaillaco is actually right on Chile’s border with Argentina. This stratovolcano is made up of a younger volcano that developed on top of an older one whose upper area collapsed around 150,000 years ago. The younger volcano began developing around 10,000 years ago.

Mount St. Helens

Although Mount St. Helens has the title of one of the youngest stratovolcanoes located in the Cascades, it is the most active. Just within the last 3,500 years, at least 35 layers of tephra have been created by its eruptions. This stratovolcano is most well-known for its eruption in 1980 which killed 57 people in addition to destroying 185 miles of highway, 15 miles of railways, 47 bridges and 250 homes. This eruption was triggered by a 5.1 earthquake and created an avalanche of debris that had a volume of around 0.7 cubic miles.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is the tallest peak of the Cascade Range and measures in at an elevation of 4,392 meters. Although Mount Rainier itself has developed within the last half a million years, between one and two million years ago there was a similar cone in its place. An eruption that took place 5,600 years ago created a large crater at its top but this was later filled when the summit was rebuilt by later eruptions. Although the most recent magmatic eruption of this stratovolcano took place around 1,000 years ago, it has had several dozen highly explosive eruptions since the previous ice age which have spread tephra all across the state of Washington.

Krakatoa

Krakatoa is a volcanic island located that is part of the Sunda Strait. In 1883 this stratovolcano had a series of violent eruptions which sent ash flying more than 50 miles into the atmosphere in addition to being heard at least 2,200 miles away from its location. The large release of energy from its eruption caused tsunamis which in turn took the lives of 36,400 people on Sumatra and Java.

Tambora

Tambora is an Indonesian stratovolcano that erupted in 1815. In fact, these eruptions were so violently explosive that they are one of the largest in the entirety of recorded history. When the volcano erupted, the global temperatures dropped around three degrees Celsius, which is no surprise as ash was ejected 50 kilometers into the atmosphere. Because the stratovolcano erupted so much material, it caved in after the eruption was complete and in the process created a caldera that is large enough to be visible from space.

 

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