Novarupta – Katmai Eruption of 1912, Largest Eruption of the 20th Century

Ash drifts around Katmai village barabaras (sod houses) after the June 1912 eruption of Novarupta. Katmai's then-new Russian Orthodox church is visible in the background. Photo taken by G.C. Martin, U.S. Geological Survey.
Image courtesy Judy Fierstien, USGS.

In Kodiak birds began falling from the sky, roofs collapsed under the weight of more than one foot of ash, buildings were wrecked by ash avalanches and other structures burned after being struck by lightning from the ash cloud during the June 6 – 9 Novarupta – Katmai eruption of 1912. This week on Addressing Alaskans, 100 years after what would have been the second day of the eruption (June 7) listen to USGS Katmai volcanologist, Judy Fierstein’s talk, “Novarupta – Katmai Eruption of 1912, Largest Eruption of the 20th Century: A Centennial Perspective”.


BROADCAST ON KSKA: Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

RECORDED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at Anchorage Museum

SPEAKER: Judy Fierstein, research geologist, U.S. Geological Survey

HOST: U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Alaska Historical Society


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Ash covering a home in Katmai Village, after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta. Photo taken by G.C. Martin, U.S. Geological Survey.
Maps show location of Novarupta, VTTS ignimbrite (yellow), Katmai caldera, and region impacted by ash fall during the 6-8 June 1912 eruption. Dust fall was reported in Virginia by 10 June and in Algeria by 19 June. Ashfall crippled Alaskan ecology and commerce in 1912-13. In 2012, round-the-clock seismic and satellite monitoring by Alaska Volcano Observatory ensures that future eruptions won’t surprise us. Image courtesy of AVO / USGS.
Photograph of Kodiak after the Novarupta/Katmai 1912 eruption. Archives UAF, Amelia Elkinton Collection.