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Journey to Novarupta
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Journey to Novarupta is a film, audio adventure, and more!
Journey to Novarupta is a film, audio adventure, and more!

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During the June 6-8, 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption, significant amounts of 3 mountains collapsed, including Noisy Mountain (left, 2011 photo by Dr. Shormann). On the right is Herðubreið(right), an Icelandic tuya (Wikipedia, 2012). Note the relatively flat tops on both mountains, and steep sides with landslide debris. Note also the possible sample of pillow lava, a type of lava associated with tuyas.

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For Dr. Shormann's 2013 presentation at the International Conference on Creationism, he created this table on historic rates of volcanism to show how uniformitarian models stretch time out unrealistically, resulting in a decreasing trend in volcanic activity the farther we go back in time. The uniformitarian model of history grossly contradicts the evidence that rates of volcanism were much higher in the past. For example, the Huckleberry Ridge eruption in Yellowstone National Park during Ice age times was 80 times larger than Novarupta's 1912 blast. And Novarupta is considered massive for modern volcanoes!

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One of the most amazing things about the Novarupta-Katmai eruption is not just its power, but the fact that the Flood/Ice Age/Present pattern is there for all to see! Dr. Shormann assumes the Naknek formation was a Flood deposit, followed by Ice Age glacial action, with volcanic mountain-forming during and after glacial retreat. Photo i is from Katmai Canyon by Dr. Griggs (p. 125 of his book, The Valley of 10,000 Smokes). 2011 photo ii by Dr. Shormann shows post-Ice Age uplift of Naknek formation between Mount Katmai and Noisy Mountain, with glacially-smoothed boulders still resting on uplifted blocks. 2009 photo iii by Dr. Shormann shows Flood/Ice Age/Stasis pattern along upper Ukak River. 2011 photo iv by Dr. Shormann shows Ice Age/Present pattern in extreme upper Katmai Valley.

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This diagram shows average volumes of volcanic material ejected from ancient eruptions. The uniformitarian time scale was used to group the eruptions into Flood/Post Flood (approx. 500 Ma to 2.6 Ma) , Ice Age (2.6 Ma to 10,000 years BP), post Ice Age (10,000 years BP to 1912), and 1912 to present. Because the uniformitarian timescale "stretches" time out to fit its assumptions, it paints an unrealistic picture of historic volcanic activity. However, when the same evidence is interpreted from a biblical framework, a much more realistic pattern emerges. If the "fountains of the deep" really did burst open as described in Genesis 7:11, we would expect an indescribable amount of water, plus a lot of volcanic material, to be released. We would expect a peak around the time of the Flood, with a decreasing trend in the following years. This is what the diagram below reveals. The Bible is clear that the Flood lasted about a year. But it is reasonable to assume that volcanic activity was still quite high as the earth's new surface settled into place.

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Dr. Grigg's thought the top of Mt. Katmai exploded, creating the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption. Later studies have shown that, while Mt. Katmai did erupt, its contribution was small compared to what erupted out of Novarupta's vent.

Today, there is still disagreement over what the best interpretation is for the eruption. In Dr. Shormann's 2013 presentation at the International Conference on Creationism, he proposed a two-chamber model. Both chambers are zoned, meaning the liquid magmas of different densities rest in zones, or layers within the magma chamber. The diagram shows low-density rhyolite dominating the magma chamber that is possibly centered West of Mount Katmai. Novarupta began when a sill, formed by rupturing through layers of the Naknek formation, eventually broke through the surface. Rhyolite drained first, followed by denser andesite from the bottom of Mt. Katmai’s chamber. Dacite flows, possibly a mixture from both chambers, dominated Episode II and large parts of Episodes I and III.

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In 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the Novarupta-Katmai eruption, Dr. Shormann's team had a sample from the top of Novarupta age-dated using the Ar-Ar radiometric dating method. Tests like this are important because they help us calibrate the radiometric dating methods against samples of known age. If the assumptions behind the mathematical calculations the method uses applied in the real world, this sample should have had virtually 0% Ar*. But, as the upper chart shows, the sample had almost 4% Ar*, which gave ages as old as 5.5 million years! Because they are wrong so frequently, radiometric methods are better suited for studying a rock's environmental history instead of it's chronology.

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It is probably safe to say that these two images are from locations in the Novarupta-Katmai eruption zone that only a handful of people, if that, have ever visited. On the left, high energy, proximal ignimbrites (HEPI) from Mt. Katmai blanket an unknown object (uplifted Naknek formation?), east of Noisy Glacier’s creek between Noisy Mountain and Mount Katmai. Note the finely-layered, yet vertical structure, revealing how a “HEPI cloud” might descend and blanket an object. The dark object on top is a volcanic bomb. On right, large (>20 cm) pumice and breccia (large red-brown rock) chunks near the HEPI deposit, about 4.5 km from Mt Katmai’s caldera rim. Research by USGS geologists suggests chunks of this size would not have traveled this far. This evidence observed by Dr. Shormann's team reveals that Mount Katmai’s eruption may have been more powerful than USGS geologists believe.

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This photo shows various flow and fall deposits from the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption. Two types are shown, high-energy, proximal ignimbrites (HEPI), and valley-filling ignimbrites (VFI). i, HEPI deposit draping South flank of Falling Mountain, a few hundred meters above Novarupta’s vent. ii, Mike Boriack jumping the River Lethe where it knifes through highly-welded VFI Package 8. iii, partly eroded, finely layered HEPI deposit West of the River Lethe. iv, finely layered deposit East of Noisy Mountain, probably deposited in an ephemeral debris-dam lake formed when Noisy Mountain collapsed during Episode I and II. All photos by Dr. Shormann (i-iii in 2009, iv in 2011).

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The Novarupta lava dome as Dr. Griggs saw it in 1917, and how it looks today. Dr. Griggs named the site of the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, and wrote a book of the same name. Although they are really "steams," not smokes, the valley has since cooled, and only a few steaming vents remain.

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Laura Griggs, Dr. Griggs wife, is one of the few women to ever peer into Mt. Katmai's caldera. The lava dome barely visible at the bottom, is now covered by over 600 feet of water! Mr. and Mrs. Griggs' family has been described as a "citadel of Christian values." In 2011, Ashley Cole, wife of Dr. Shormann's son, Kenny Cole, braved icy rivers and super-intense hiking to explore a part of Novarupta-Katmai that virtually no one else has explored before or since!

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