The photographs of a man who knew he was about to be killed by a volcano

Robert Landsburg was an American photographer who was killed while photographing the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Born in Seattle, Washington, and living in Portland, Oregon, he had visited the area many times in order to photographically document the changing volcano.

On the morning of May 18th 1980, he was within a few miles of the summit. When the mountain erupted, Landsburg took photos of the rapidly approaching ash cloud. Knowing he was going to die from the nearly supersonic pyroclastic flow about to overtake him, 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. Seventeen days later, Landsburg’s body was found buried in the ash with his backpack underneath. The film was developed and has provided geologists with valuable documentation of the historic eruption.