VHP Photo Glossary: Plinian eruption

Plinian eruption column at Mount Spurr, Alaska

Photograph by R. McGimsey
on 18 August 1992

Plinian eruption

Plinian eruptions are large explosive events that form enormous dark columns of tephra and gas high into the stratosphere (>11 km). Such eruptions are named for Pliny the Younger, who carefully described the disastrous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. This eruption generated a huge column of tephra into the sky, pyroclastic flows and surges, and extensive ash fall. Many thousands of people evacuated areas around the volcano, but about 2,000 were killed, including Pliny the Older.

Image: A plinian-type explosive eruption from the Crater Peak vent (hidden beneath clouds) on Mount Spurr, Alaska, sent an eruption column to a height of about 18 km above sea level.

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