2012 Mount Lassen eruption


3:02 PM; March 30, 2012




40° 29′ 17.42″ N, 121° 30′ 18.03″ W

Countries/Regions affected:

United States


327 confirmed


No (inland)

The 2012 eruption of Mount Lassen, a lava dome-type volcano in Northern California, was very large, VEI-5 force, or Mt. St. Helens-sized. It blasted 407 feet off the mountain's top, after the swelling from the expanding lava increased the its height to around 13,500 feet. Unlike the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980, or the eruption of Surtsey the previous month, few warning signs preceded the eruption: no harmonic tremors or extremely strong earthquakes, something very rare, if normally non-existent during a typical volcanic eruption. However, this eruption was just the first of many in 2012, one that still managed to stand out, even among the many mega-disasters that struck Earth and its population that year. Lava bombs were hurtled across a nearly 20 mile stretch of open wilderness, killing hundreds who had not yet evacuated the park with both the lava bombs and huge pyroclastic flows, as well as lethal ash clouds that downed several small airplanes in the area, killing dozens more. Asfall reached as far as Sacramento and San Francisco, where both cities' airports were shut down due to excessive amounts of ash. Even car travel was made difficult, as many cars had their air filters clogged because of the ash, leaving abandoned cars scattered across San Francisco and Sacramento. Some described the Golden Gate Bridge during this time as "looking more like it was two-hundred fifty years-old rather than seventy-five", due to it being covered in ash for over a week before the cloud cleared and cleanup began. The ash also traveled north to the southern end of British Columbia and south to Tijuana in Mexico, disrupting flights in both places as well. For the second time in less than a month, US President Jonathan Tomson declared a region of the United States a federal disaster, with the recently elected California State Governor, Mitchell Donners, declaring a state of emergency for most of California.

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