August 24, 79: Mount Vesuvius erupts.

Much of what is known of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius comes from the descriptive epistles of Pliny the Younger (nephew of Pliny the Elder), who wrote that the event, which buried the nearby cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, and others, was preceded by a series of small earthquakes that were not then recognized as precursors of the destruction that was to come. By all accounts, nearly everyone living within reach of the volcanic destruction was caught unprepared when Mount Vesuvius finally erupted - ejecting thick clouds of stone and ash into the air, and engulfing the cities in pyroclastic material, layered several feet thick.

Between 16,000 and 20,000 people were killed in the destruction, either from inhaling deadly gas fumes, from suffocation through ash inhalation, or from being struck by pieces of debris and rock. The subsequent rainfall turned the layers of ash and volcanic material which covered Pompeii into a kind of natural concrete, hiding and preserving the city until its rediscovery in the 16th century. Herculaneum was not rediscovered and excavated until 1738. 

Excerpt from one of Pliny’s letters/accounts of the eruption:

Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.‘Let us leave the road while we can still see,’ I said, 'or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.’ We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.

The US government has an official publication titled ‘Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.' 

Happy Free Comic Book Day!

In honor of this joyous occasion, I’m giving you a free one you probably haven’t seen:  

You can read the whole thing here.

Now go to the comic book store and get a good one before the zombies come.


The Delta Flume, The World’s Largest Man Made Wave.

At 9 million litres, the machine can create waves up to 15 feet high. The other end of the trough is a simulated gradually rising coast, which is used to test full scale flood defenses such as dams and dykes. 

The Delta Flume and other machines like it was inspired by a catastrophic flood in The Netherlands in 1953 which took the lives of nearly 2000 people. From this point the Netherlands began devising more inventive ways of flood defense. 


The signs as natural disasters

Aries: Volcanic eruptions

Originally posted by wilted-scenes

Taurus: Solar flares

Originally posted by spaceexp

Gemini: Tsunami

Originally posted by thereformityproject

Cancer: Thunder storms

Originally posted by scottycurt

Leo: Earthquakes

Originally posted by amnhnyc

Virgo and Saggitarius: Landslides

Originally posted by sizvideos

Libra: Blizzards

Originally posted by skinthiscat

Scorpio: Floods

Originally posted by dprflagemoji

Capricorn: Sinkholes

Originally posted by giantgagofficial

Aquarius: Cyclonic storms

Originally posted by amnhnyc

Pisces: Tornadoes

Originally posted by theweatherlab


these are few of the many pictures from ecuador tonight. half of these pictures are of places right by where i live. one of the 28 casualties happened in a mall i was in just earlier. you never really understand this type of tragedies until it happens to you. i know it couldve been worse but my country is NOT used to natural disasters at all (this is our first strong earthquake in decades). please send us strength, the country is in chaos right now, there are still reports on the news and we’re all terrified. im still trembling just thinking back to it.

may the victims rest in peace and may we move on from this. fuerza mi ecuador.


The San Francisco Earthquake, April 18, 1906

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake struck 110 years ago on the morning of April 18, 1906. With an estimated magnitude of 7.9, it was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, with the earthquake and subsequent fires claiming more than 3,000 lives, and leaving half the city’s population homeless.

The National Archives Catalog holds over 150 photos related to the San Francisco Earthquake from multiple federal agencies, departments and congressional committees, including:

A view of busy Market Street looking southward. This shot may be taken just before the earthquake hit. There is no date on the photo.  National Archives Identifier: 6598315

More on the San Francisco Earthquake from the National Archives:

I thought I was done with unrequited love, and then you smiled at me.

And I love you but I hate you at the same time, an endless circle of desperation, a beggar grasping at the crumbs you give me, disgusted with myself for acting this way, wishing and hoping until I make myself sick, crashed to the ground only to get up, spitting blood again, acting like every blow doesn’t exist, acting like it all means nothing to me, twirling around all the words I can’t say to you, until they hem me in and press against me, suffocating me. I can’t find my way out of falling for you, even though it’s crushing me.

You’re every natural disaster rolled into one freak storm, because I should have known better than to let the water level rise, watch the clouds creep closer as though nothing they did could effect me. I should have evacuated, run away, found a way to be far away from you when the ground shifted underneath me.

I should never have let myself be swept up in those first notes and inside jokes and scrawled tattoos, I should never have dove into the waves like they wouldn’t hurt me, recklessness always my downfall, adrenaline always a drug with a hell of a hangover. I should have averted the disaster before it started.

But I fell. And so unrequited love comes upon me again, the blight that sweeps into my head unbidden, planting tantalizing daydreams and alternate realities, embellishing every word you say with fairytale fervor, romance blossoming at the corners of my everyday.

And I stand beneath the crush of the tidal wave once again, daring it to do its worst.

—  ‘First Love’ (Part III)

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Many Americans living along the Gulf Coast do not need an anniversary to reflect upon Hurricane Katrina.  The natural disaster caused overwhelming hardship for thousands, irreparably damaging houses, businesses and entire cities.  Katrina left a legacy that they will never forget.

Yet for some, the ten years since the hurricane has blunted Katrina’s gravity.  While we may know that the hurricane was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, it is hard to put that into perspective.  Memories of the event are largely a blurred hodgepodge of political criticism, stories of survival, and the ever-ongoing recovery effort.

The images of Katrina reflect the power of photography.  A camera, whether manned by a government photographer or casual bystander, captures a moment in time.  At the National Archives, our goal is to preserve these moments.  We preserve photos so generations to come will be able to look back on events like Hurricane Katrina and understand its impact on American lives.

Ten years removed, the photos remind us of two things. First, is the unprecedented impact of the hurricane.  Images of overturned boats, demolished houses, and shattered windows remind us (for those that need reminding) of the magnitude of the storm.  Yet also, and perhaps more importantly, we are reminded of the way our nation came together in the aftermath of Katrina.  In these photos, the bravery of rescue workers, volunteers, fire fighters, and ordinary people shines through.  Faced with crisis, Americans united to help one another.

The photos above come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  In the weeks following the hurricane, FEMA photographers documented the physical and social impact of the storm.  These photos, and others related to Hurricane Katrina, can be found in the National Archives Catalog.

For more historical background on the levee system and flood control along the Gulf of Mexico check out the recent blog post, Taming the Mississippi.

via Remembering Hurricane Katrina (Photos) | The Unwritten Record