I’m not much of a shopper, especially in kitschy tourist areas.  If I were, I probably would have discovered an interesting story someone shared with me yesterday.

Instead of recreate the entire story, following is an excerpt from Emerald Fox. Amazing that the total volume of ash from Mount St. Helens was enough to cover a football field to a depth of 150 miles!

When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, millions of acres of forests and farmland, towns, and cities were suddenly covered in a gray pumice-like ash. Communities were overwhelmed by what seemed like the impossible: What to do with all this ash?

Apprehension soon gave way to pragmatism, as many began to see beyond the destruction, and recognized the possible benefits from this natural disaster. Farmers and gardeners tilled the ash into their fields and gardens, providing rich nutrients for the soil. Artists and potters began experimenting with a new medium for their craft. But it was the employees of a local logging company who discovered how truly unique the ash was.

As it happened, this timber company was harvesting timber in the Spirit Lake area at the time of the first eruption. All of their heavy equipment was lost to the powerful mud flow that followed, and a special crew was sent in within days of the blast in order to salvage some of their expensive equipment. As they used acetylene torches to remove the valuable engines, they noticed that the ugly gray ash was melting and turning a greenish color. That is because the gray substance wasn’t ash at all, but pulverized volcanic rock rich with silica, aluminum and iron—as well as traces of other metals including chromium and copper. What followed was the creation of the beautiful semi-precious gemstone. The shade of green varies because the trace elements of the mineral vary from one eruption to the next.