What was the most surprising discovery after the eruption?

The single greatest surprise to scientists entering the blast zone after the eruption was the realization that many organisms survived in, what initially appeared to be, a lifeless landscape. Scientists entering the blast zone for the first time found a mostly gray and brown landscape covered with dead trees, ash and pumice.


It wasn’t long before scientists found surviving plants and animals in the blast zone. Trees survived beneath deep snow banks and plants sprouted from buried soil where erosion thinned the overlying ash deposits. Signs of activity by gophers and ants indicated that subterranean animals had survived in beneath the volcanic ash.