Visual Inspiration: An Underground Fire from 1962 Is Still Burning

Apparently in Pennsylvania, there’s a town—Centralia—all but abandoned due to a coal mine fire that’s been burning underground since 1962.

Flickr t3hWIT Centralia PA Cracked Old Route 61

There is disagreement over the cause of the fire. It seems that one way or another a surface fire moved into the system of mining tunnels below the town.

The effects are indisputable and scary: unstable ground, sink holes, damaged roads, plumes of hot steam, vents of smoke and toxic gases (like lethal levels of carbon monoxide), and, finally, evictions plus abandoned and/or demolished buildings.

Flickr Kelly Michals Coal Fire in 2011

Flickr dfirecop AP Photo Sinkhole

Speculative fiction that takes place in a post-catastrophy world of some sort immediately comes to mind, and no wonder. Even the little that I read gave me a glimpse on the variety of reactions people can have to major environmental disruptions and their aftermath. Not to mention that photos of the abandoned parts of Centralia are stunning. They remind me of Pripyat after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, which is the closest equivalent I can think of from my childhood in Finland.

Found via Paul Cooper on Twitter. (Visit his Twitter tread for additional photos & info.)

Images: Cracked old Route 61 by t3hWIT on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0). Coal fire in 2011 by Kelly Michals on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0). Sinkhole from Feb. 14, 1981, by AP Photo via dfirecop on Flickr.

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Museum Materials: Volcano Day in Pompeii

Speaking of the excellence of museum and library collections: below are resources on the destruction of Pompeii I found by visiting only two museum sites.

“A Day in Pompeii” is an 8-minute high-definition video on how a series of eruptions wiped out Pompeii over 48 hours, produced by Museum Victoria (Melbourne Museum) and Zero One Animation for an exhibition at Melbourne Museum in 2009.

A Day in Pompeii – Full-length animation via Zero One Animation

It would’ve been more stunning with changes in the POV rather than a static camera, but it was still interesting.

To accompany the exhibit, Melbourne Museum produced a wealth of additional online material.

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Box

Unfortunately there’s currently no index page, but articles are still available on the Museum website (do a search for Pompeii). For example, House of the Vine is a nifty virtual recreation of a beautiful Pompeian house. And did you know that Pompeii had running water and lavatories? There is even a replica of a loaf of bread from Pompeii:

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Loaf of Bread

After Melbourne, the exhibition traveled to other places. The Western Australian Museum also built a helpful site, still fully available, to go with their 2010 version in Perth.

Complementary views can be found from photos of the current state of the city at Pompeii in Pictures, website by Jackie and Bob Dunn. (Getting to the photos themselves takes a bit of clicking through the menus, but they’re there.)

Images: Box, (c) Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei via Melbourne Museum (House of Julius Polybius, Pompeii; original iron and bronze fittings and wood reconstruction). Loaf of bread via Melbourne Museum (bakery in Pompeii; plaster copy of an original, carbonized loaf)

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?