Today marks 100 years since massive Alaska Novarupta volcanic eruption

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Mt. Redoubt's active lava dome on May 8, 2009
AVO photo
Summit of Augustine viewed from the south.
Image courtesy of AVO/USGS
Pavlof volcano and eruption plume on evening of Aug. 30, 2007. View is to the south. Plume height approximately 17-18,000 ft.
Chris Waythomas/Alaska Volcano Observatory photo
The "Snowy Hole," a fumarole on the south side of Snowy Volcano, located in the Katmai region of the Alaska Peninsula.
Cyrus Read/Alaska Volcano Observatory photo
Aerial image of Akutan Volcano. (August 5, 2011)
Burke Mees/Alaska Volcano Observatory photo
A photo of Iliamna volcano on the lower west side of Cook Inlet.
Photo courtesy AVO/USGS
Aerial view looking southwest of a portion of the 4-6 km ice-filled summit caldera of Mount Wrangell, a 14,163-foot andesite shield volcano in 1987. It is the only volcano in the Wrangell volcanic field to have had documented historical activity consisting of several minor, possibly phreatic eruptions in the early 1900's.
R. Motyka/ADGGS photo
Mount Novarupta
USGS photo
Aerial view, looking east, of Aniakchak caldera, one of the most spectacular volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula. Formed during a catastrophic ash-flow producing eruption about 3,400 years ago, Aniakchak caldera is about 10 km (6 mi) across and averages 500 m (1,640 ft) in depth. Voluminous postcaldera eruptive activity has produced a wide variety of volcanic landforms and deposits within the caldera. The volcano is located in Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, Alaska, which is administered by the National Park Service.
AVO photo
From the USGS caption: Mount Cleveland forms the western half of Chuginadak Island in the central Aleutian Islands. This symmetrical, 1,730-m (5,676 ft)-high stratovolcano and has been the site of numerous eruptions in the last two centuries; the most recent eruption occurred in 1994. In 1944, a U.S. Army serviceman was reportedly killed by an eruption from Mount Cleveland.
Alaska Volcano Observatory photo
Eruption of Great Sitkin Volcano, 1974.
Steve Kelly photo; courtesy Paul W. Roberts
Aerial view of the eruption column from Mount Spurr volcano on Aug. 18, 1992. A light-tan cloud ascending from pyroclastic flows is visible at right. The 11,070 footh summit lava dome complex of Mount Spurr is visible at left.
R. McGimsey/U.S. Geological Survey photo

A hundred years ago today, June 6, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century shook Alaska. Ned Rozell of the Alaska Science Forum reports that the Novarupta-Katmai volcanic eruption of 1912 spewed 100 times as much material as Mount St. Helens, and ash reached as far as the Mediterranean Sea. If the ash were deposited on top of Anchorage, the city would be buried 3 miles deep.

The eruption occurred on the Alaska Peninsula, in what is now the Katmai National Park. Sometime during the next three days, Mount Katmai, located six miles away, caved in on itself. Today, the former mountain is a crater lake surrounded by 300-foot walls, into which glaciers calve.

Four years after the eruption, in 1916, the botanist Robert Griggs visited the valley, and later wrote that he and others were "overawed" by what they saw. Steam flowed from vents across the barren, ash-covered valley; Griggs named it The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

Despite the magnitude of the explosion, only one person died, a woman already afflicted with tuberculosis, on a boat in Kodiak.

Read much more about this magnificent event, here.