Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Fury of the Volcano Turns the Forest into a Heap of Toothpicks

Thirty years ago today, Mt. St. Helens in Washington exploded. A 5.1 scale earthquake caused an entire side of the volcano to slide off. This moving of the mountain, exposed the "superheated core of the volcano setting off gigantic explosions and eruptions of steam, ash and rock debris, and the volcano erupted."


The Boston Globe notes that "the blast was heard hundreds of miles away, the pressure wave flattened entire forests, the heat melted glaciers and set off destructive mudflows, and 57 people lost their lives. The erupting ash column shot up 80,000 feet into the atmosphere for over 10 hours, depositing ash across Eastern Washington and 10 other states."

The Globe's Big Picture today features a number of images from the incident's aftermath. I was struck by one of the pictures of a section of the "flattened forest." It's quite a stunning indication of the incredible amount of power that accompanied the eruption. The fallen trees look like a heap of toothpicks. 


Where once a thick forest full of towering trees stood,
A heap of naked logs now lay huddled together,
Stripped of their vibrancy.
Seemingly unassailable,
They bowed down before the fury of the blast.

This awful display of sheer force might serve as an apt (although ultimately inadequate) visual metaphor for the type of power behind what Psalm 29 describes as the voice of the Lord:
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon

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