Looking so valuable Sea Otter. Their presence

Looking down from a small airplane, the glistening waters of Katmai are all that you see. A sleuth of bears are hunting in the river, pulling out their food from underneath. This tranquil land is Katmai National Park.Katmai can be found on the Northern Alaskan Peninsula, Northwest of Kodiak Island and Southwest of Homer, Alaska. The nearest major city is Anchorage, which also happens to contain airports such as the Ted Stevens International Airport. Katmai and its islands can only be accessed by air or boat, forcing one to locate one beforehand. Most resort to an air taxi from Anchorage, Dillingham, Homer, King Salmon, or Kodiak. It can also be accessed by boat, reaching Katmai on its Pacific coast. Once inside the park, movement is limited to hiking, kayak, canoe,  raft, boat, and airplane.    Before learning the present, one must learn the past. Katmai has a calm history of settlers and villages. People have been residing in Katmai for more than 9000 years. The Savonoski village, however, was evacuated upon the eruption of Novarupta in 1912. Around the park, residents have fished and gathered berries as a source of food for generations. Katmai also went through a phase called the “Russian Years” from 1760 to 1867. Numerous Russian fur hunters settled in Katmai to hunt the ever so valuable Sea Otter. Their presence ultimately led to Russian Orthodox religion to spread throughout the area. After that, the Russian Years were followed by the “American Years” until 1912. Due to the decline of the Sea Otter population, many trappers began to fish instead. Near the end of this time, on June 6, Novarupta erupted, permanently changing the landscape, and forming the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Novarupta was the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. In 1918, not only was the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes deemed as a monument, but Katmai itself became a National Monument, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Later, in 1980, Jimmy Carter redesignated the monument as Katmai National Park. The main residence of the park were the native Alutiiq people. Located here is also Fune’s Cabin, home to the miner and trapper of the same name. Fune left his home in Lithuania in the early 1900s in search of fortune. He built the cabin in 1926, only to be arrested later on for illegally trespassing. Not too far from this cabin is the Valley of 10,000 smokes, a valley filled with fumaroles. Fumaroles range from long fissures to tiny cracks in the landscape that let out steam, mostly made of pumice and ash. There are also streams that are in Katmai’s fissures, managing to cut canyons as much as 100 ft deep, but only 5 to 10 feet wide. The Valley is said to have originated from the Pyroclastic flow from the Novarupta eruption, which is the hot gas spewing out from a volcano. These can travel up to 430 mph and reach temperatures of 1,830?. By the 1930s, the valley was cooled, but before then, it was filled to the brim with the smoke from the fumaroles, hence the name. The ash was turned into clay in the cooling process. Nearby, the Novarupta – Katmai eruption left a lava dome, a mass of lava that had extruded from a vent. Lava is magma that was expelled from a volcano by geothermal energy. It can be anywhere from 1292 to 2192 degrees Fahrenheit. Currently the former site of the summit of Mount Katmai contains a 800 feet deep caldera. Calderas form when magma from under a volcano is used up, and the top collapses over the empty magma chamber, forming a sinkhole. Rather than the caldera being formed when Mount Katmai erupted, the eruption of Novarupta caused Mount Katmai’s summit to collapse. A glacier also formed in the caldera, which reaches down to Crater Lake. These are a prime example of the volcanic tendencies that Katmai contains. It is one of the most volcanic areas on the globe, lying on the northern boundary of the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is home to 90% of all earthquakes, which subsequently leads to volcanic activity, or volcanism. The basis of volcanism, the eruption of magma onto earth,  relies on the Theory of Plate Tectonics, which is about how our crust is made of slabs called lithospheric plates that are moving. Also known as tectonic plates, they collide with each other or separate, which is why so much volcanic activity is seen occurring along plate boundaries. Some plates go through subduction, the process of one plate sinking beneath another, specifically an oceanic crust under a continental one. This is caused by convection currents within Earth’s asthenosphere, the moving motion underneath the crust. The area where one plate subducts under another forms the subduction zone, where volcanoes may form. For example, Novarupta formed in a subduction zone, as a stratovolcano; a volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. As a stratovolcano, Novarupta also has an intermediate amount of silica and rhyolite within its magma. Having higher amounts of silica causes the volcano to form with steep sides (approximately 30-35 degrees)  and a higher viscosity. The less fluid magma also causes more explosive eruptions, rather than softer ones. This is because the slow magma builds up more pressure, and lets it all out as soon as an opening is found. This is also why Novarupta had no lava flow, because the eruption was explosive. All that came from the eruption was volcanic ash and tephra, pieces of rock thrown out of a volcano during eruption. While tephra is still in the air, it is considered to be pyroclasts. The larger chunks land closer to the volcano, while smaller pieces land far away, since they are light enough for wind to carry them further off. In the body of a volcano, there are multiple paths for the magma to travel. There is a magma chamber that holds the magma, and upon eruption all of that magma goes up a conduit, the throat of the volcano. While going up, the conduit could branch off into dikes, smaller conduits that don’t exit through the vent, and eventually sills, which are parts of sedimentary rock that were cut and filled with magma. While the explosion of Mount Katmai was a VEI 3, Novarupta had a category 6 explosion, being considered a Plinian explosion. Novarupta volcanic debris reached levels around the Stratosphere. The ash became trapped in the Stratosphere, causing a decrease in temperature due to the blocking of sunlight. Katmai’s coastline was formed by a process called glaciation, because as the glacier moved it carved out the land underneath, forming the coast and the narrow valleys that lie along it. The glaciers also allow sediment above the mountain to relocate into the waters below. The sediment includes the ash from eruptions, so the Rainbow, Savanoski, and Ukak Rivers carry a lot of it.Katmai is also home to a diverse variety of plants and animals. One of the most common plants is the Fireweed. Others include the Kamchatka Lily, and the Monkshood, the most poisonous plant in North America. Non-native species include the common dandelion, the sheep sorrel, and possibly the Elodea in the near future, which may be brought from small seeds attached to float planes. All three of these plants disperse extremely quickly, and so are hard to control. Although there are no endangered plants, there are numerous endangered animals, such as the Northern Right Whale, the Bowhead whale, Sei Whale, Blue Whale, Fin Whale, Humpback Whale, Sperm Whale, American Peregrine Falcon, and short-tailed albatross. Some of the most prominent species of mammals are the brown bears. There are also some Gray Wolves and Sea Otters.The climate of Katmai consists of a varying climate. It consists of wet and cool weather during spring, summer, and fall while winters are dry and cold. One should expect stormy winds all year round. Ponds and lakes are usually frozen by mid to late fall. Snow covers higher elevations of the park until late May and early June. Out of all the areas in the park, the Pacific Coast has cooler, wetter, and stormier conditions than the interior area. The entire park is between two climate zones, a maritime zone in the East and South, and a continental zone in the West and North. Much of the Summer weather is affected by the Bering Sea, while most of the winter weather is caused by an increase in sea ice. The average yearly precipitation is around 30 inches, even though the coastline receives around 80 inches, like the nearby city of Kodiak. In summer, the average precipitation and temperature are 2.25 inches and 53.75 degrees Fahrenheit, in fall it is 2.15 inches and 28.2 degrees Fahrenheit, in winter it is 1.05 inches and 16.1 degrees Fahrenheit, and in spring it is 1.03 inches and 33.1 degrees Fahrenheit.  A significant weather event that occurred was a cyclone that hit Katmai in 2012. The Aleutian range stops most moisture from the North and West, so it causes the land to the South and East to receive less precipitation.Katmai also provides lots of facilities such as Brooks Lodge, Enchanted Lake Lodge, Katmai Wilderness Lodge, and Kulik Lodge. The Royal Wolf Lodge which is also available in Katmai provides fishing opportunities for their guests. There is no source of gas, due to the lack of cars and roads to drive on. Brooks Camp is a camping ground for residents, with a 60 person limit. The campgrounds provide residents cooking shelters, storing caches, clean water, toilets, and fire rings. There is also an electric fence surrounding the ends of the campground in order to ward off any bears. A program provided by Katmai for the youth is the Katmai National Park Rangers program. Children can participate by downloading a packet from their website, send it back filled out, and receive a badge. The program is meant for entertainment purposes only.Katmai National Park is the home to the diverse wildlife found nowhere else. It is home to extravagant wonders such as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, and home to the most prominent eruption of the 20th century. As a National Park, these natural wonders can be preserved as a ready source for entertainment and education for the years to come.


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