Robert Landsburg

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Robert Landsburg
Robert Emerson Landsburg

(1931-11-13)November 13, 1931
DiedMay 18, 1980(1980-05-18) (aged 48)
Known forPhotographing the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

Robert Emerson Landsburg (November 13, 1931 – May 18, 1980) was an American photographer who died while photographing the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.[1][2][3] He was born in Seattle, Washington, and was a resident of Portland, Oregon, at the time of his death.

In the weeks leading up to the eruption, Landsburg visited the area many times in order to photographically document the changing volcano.[4] On the morning of May 18, he was within a few miles of the summit. When the mountain erupted, Landsburg took photos of the rapidly approaching ash cloud. Before he was engulfed by the pyroclastic flow, he rewound the film back into its case, put his camera in his backpack, and then laid himself on top of the backpack in an attempt to protect its contents.[5] His body was found 17 days later, buried in the ash with his backpack underneath. The film was developed and has provided geologists with valuable documentation of the historic eruption.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff report (January 1981). Robert Landsburg's brave final shots. National Geographic
  2. ^ Associated Press (June 5, 1980). Another body found in volcano area.
  3. ^ Associated Press (June 6, 1980). Red tape battled. St. Helens sedate. The Spokesman-Review
  4. ^ Bunce, Vincent (2000). "Restless Planet: Volcanoes", p.44. Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers, Austin. ISBN 0-7398-1327-7.
  5. ^ a b Robert Coenraads (2006). "Natural Disasters and How We Cope", p.50. Millennium House, ISBN 978-1-921209-11-6.