Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai National Park and Preserve kăt´mī [key], at the northern end of the Alaska Peninsula on Shelikof Strait, S Alaska, comprising Katmai National Park (3,674,530 acres/1,487,664 hectares) and an adjoining preserve (418,699 acres/169,514 hectares). Established in 1918 as a national monument, it was later expanded and was designated a park and preserve in 1980. Mt. Katmai, 6,715 ft (2,047 m) high, and Novarupta, 2,760 ft (841 m) high but rising only 200 ft (65 km) above the surrounding terrain, are located in the park. In 1912 Novarupta was the site of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th cent. and one of the largest eruptions in recorded history. All plant and animal life in the area was destroyed by ash and lava, although no people were reported killed. Kodiak Island, 100 mi (160 km) to the southeast, was covered with c.1 ft (.3 m) of ash. As lava beneath Mt. Katmai drained W to Novarupta, Katmai's summit collapsed, forming a crater 1.9 mi (3 km) wide and 2,000 ft (600 m) deep, in which a lake has formed. The Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes (70 sq mi/65 sq km), a fumarole field created in the Ukak River valley by a pyroclastic flow from the Novarupta eruption, has countless holes and cracks through which hot gases passed to the surface for two decades; all but a few have become extinct. The park also includes glacier-covered peaks and other active volcanoes, lakes, a coastline with dramatic fjords and waterfalls, dense marshlands, and heavy forests with a variety of wildlife, notably moose and brown bears. See National Parks and Monuments (table).

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