It began with some earthquakes, each one more intense than the one before. Darkness fell gradually over the land and got so bad you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. People left their homes, and the peak of nearby Mount Katmai collapsed as a volcanic eruption some six miles away drew the molten rock out from under it. The result: 30 times more lava than the Mount St. Helens eruption gushed out. Hot ash rained down on the region, making breathing difficult and covering the land three feet deep.
That eruption happened on the Alaskan Peninsula in June 1912, and it created a new volcano: Novarupta. To this day you can see its effects, including an 800-foot-deep lake inside what used to be the summit of Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, so called because of its countless steam and gas vents that persisted for years after the eruption.
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