Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mount St. Helens still active 36 years later

Today is the 36th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.  Last year, I posted a documentary about the eruption and the recovery of the land around the volcano 30 years later.  Today, I'm examining what the volcano is doing now.

I begin with CNN reporting Swarm of earthquakes strike Mount St. Helens.

In the past eight weeks, more than 130 small earthquakes have trembled beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens.
On the one hand, don't worry because the repressurized magma might not erupt for years.  On the other hand, worry because the volcano has been erupting for years already; it's just doing it relatively harmlessly. National Geographic explains in TIL: Mount St. Helens Has a Baby Volcano Inside It.

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington State erupted in the most explosive volcanic event in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people and countless animals died, a forest was leveled, and ash blanketed the region as far away as Minnesota.

The volcano remains active today, even as events are being held at the mountain to mark the 36th anniversary of the disaster. Proving that it still has power, over the past few years, Mount St. Helens has had "a baby volcano growing in its crater," says Stephanie Grocke, a volcanologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a National Geographic explorer.

Between 2004 and 2008, enough molten rock oozed out of the crater to pave a seven-lane highway from New York City to Portland, Oregon, notes Grocke. As such, the mountain remains a dangerous threat.

"The volcano is still living and breathing," says Grocke.
As I wrote last year, "An eruption like this won't cause the collapse of civilization, but it can certainly ruin a city.  Just ask the Romans."  Fortunately, Portland is far enough away to avoid the fate of Pompeii--I hope.


  1. Oh, great. I wasn't living in Portland in 1980 so I don't know how much effect it had here, but I suppose the next bursting of the Great Planetary Zit might be bigger than the last one. Still, it's about fifty miles from me so things shouldn't get as bad as Pompeii.

    It's an intriguing thought, though -- Portland's vast expanse of Starbucks, bike lanes, marijuana stores, strip clubs, and light-rail trains being excavated from the compacted ash 2,000 years in the future by archaeologists who would use it as a basis for reconstructing American civilization.....

    1. I was wondering if this would get your attention. If I recall correctly, it had far more effect on Spokane than it did on Portland because of the ash fall. Just the same, it probably put on quite a show that one could see from where you live.