We focus a lot here on geology (this being a geology blog and all). But the thing I love about science is how you can start with one and end up visiting most of the rest as you explore. For instance: take the Mount St. Helens eruption. It's a hell of a geology story, one which isn't nearly finished - but that dramatic geologic moment caused a cascade of other events that have scientists of all stripes sitting up and taking notice.

It also has them saying, "Well, that was unexpected."

For a look at why scientists are surprised at how the flora and fauna are recovering in the devastated area, and why insects may be a bigger player in the succession game than we'd considered before now, see Eric Sorensen's fascinating article "A New Land" in Washington State Magazine. For one thing, you'll learn a bit about why these beautiful little flowers are vitally important to forest recovery in a blast zone:

And why willows change everything. Well, lots of things. Volcanoes going ba-boom change a lot, too.