Synopses & Reviews
Beginning in 1981, the photographer Frank Gohlke made regular visits to the devastated landscape around the Mount St. Helens volcano, in the forests of Washington State. On the morning of May 18, 1980, the mountain had been hit by two enormous explosions. First, pressure that had built up in the interior of the volcano over the preceding months triggered a massive landslide, removing the entire north face of the mountain; this avalanche was immediately followed by a violent eruption, ultimately expelling over a quarter-billion cubic yards of magma. The blast devastated roughly 250 square miles, leaving behind scoured rock, millions of fallen trees, and mud-choked river valleys-- and yet the land returned, gradually restoring and regenerating itself. In photographs of biblical grandeur taken between 1981 and 1990, Gohlke recorded both the ravaged terrain around Mount St. Helens in the early years after the eruption and the regrowth, slow but extraordinary, of the region's natural forest. Mount St. Helens: 1981 to 1990 contains a dramatic selection of these photographs; an introductory essay on volcanology and the geology of the Pacific Northwest, by Kerry Sieh and Simon LeVay, and notes on the images by the photographer himself.