Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Rediscovering Classic Icons
Many of the famous landscapes that we love most aren’t necessarily permanent. Now is the time to visit and photograph these treasures.
Rock Slides.Yosemite Valley, California, best known for its iconic formations and monolithic rock faces, is subject to rock slides year-round. As anyone who has hiked in Yosemite knows, small rock slides are common. Less frequently, massive rock slides occur, slowly reshaping this glacially formed valley. The last such event occurred in 1996 when roughly 162,000 tons of granite fell one third of a mile, generating a blast of air rivaling hurricane-strength winds that killed one person, injuring 11 others and toppling hundreds of trees.
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, Washington, epitomizes the destructive power of volcanoes and is the most recent major eruption to take place in the Cascade Mountains. Stretching south from British Columbia to Northern California, the Cascades is comprised of 21 volcanoes of which 11 have cumulatively erupted 50 times in the past 4,000 years. Iconic peaks, including Rainier, Hood and Shasta, tower over Washington, Oregon and California, respectively, providing dramatic backdrops to scenic locations across the West.
Beaches and forests are ecosystems often prone to damage from hurricanes. Storm erosion, flood and wind damage can quickly and broadly transform iconic southern landscapes and wildlife habitat. Wetlands that act as a natural barrier to storm surges are being lost by an estimated 24 square miles per year in Louisiana alone, contributing to the amplification of damage that occurs with each subsequent storm. In 2005, it was estimated that Hurricane Katrina damaged roughly 320 million large trees. Southern beaches and forests always have been resilient and dynamic environments, but as history has shown, large storms in combination with man made environmental changes are having greater impact.
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