Alaska Science Forum: Bringing the world to a standstill

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By Ned Rozell

On a fine June day about 100 years ago, in a green mountain valley where the Aleutians stick to the rest of Alaska, the world fell apart.

Earthquakes swayed the alders and spruce. A mountain shook, groaned, and collapsed in on itself, its former summit swallowing rock and dust until it became a giant, steaming pit.

About 6 miles away, hot ash began spewing from the ground in a colossal geyser. During an eruption that lasted three days, one of the most vibrant landscapes in Alaska in 1912 became the gray badlands known as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

The great eruption that created the

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