I have a secret. It isn’t your normal type of a secret. And it’s not going to put me in jail type of secret. I’ll share my little secret with you all as it seems fitting here in this blog. So, I really love volcanoes. I am completely fascinated by them! (I warned you that it isn’t a normal type of secret!)
I really don’t know where this fascination of volcanoes came from as I grew up in the Midwest. It’s as flat as a pancake there with no volcanoes anywhere near there.
Maybe it all stems from Mount St. Helens. I vividly remember seeing the television footage of Mount St. Helens’ eruption on May 18, 1980. And then, after nine hours of eruption, the mountain and landscape looked so different.
Sometime after that eruption, my dad traveled out west for work and brought me back a little box of ashes from Mount St. Helens. I thought that was so cool! And I still have the box.
Volcanoes came back into my interest as an adult after traveling to several national parks. Did you know that there are at least 38 national parks and monuments in the United States that have volcanoes has a central theme or a major supporting role?
I remember sitting at my first park ranger program at Yellowstone National Park listening about the fact that Yellowstone is a supervolcano*. I had no idea at the time! I don’t remember learning anything about that in my high school earth science class. Yellowstone has had three super eruptions in the last two million years and it is just sleeping and will erupt again someday.
While the roots of volcanoes are underground, you can see the features of the volcanic activity of Yellowstone all over the park – geysers, hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, travertine terraces, craters, Red Mountains, and more.
After learning all about Yellowstone, I had to read more about volcanoes. I had to learn more them. I also wanted to visit more volcanic national parks or monuments. It is one thing to read about it, but so different to actually see an active mountain, sleeping area, craters, or other volcanic features in person.
I learned more than the science though from visiting the national parks. I realized the power and also the fragility of nature. Our national parks and their amazing and unique features impact us often beyond our visits there.
Maybe I should have been a volcanologist! 😉
*A supervolcano refers to a volcano capable of an eruption more than 240 cubic miles of magma. Translation = it is HUGE!