Mount St. Helens has magma rising to the surface 34 years after it erupted, proving that volcanic activity remains alive and well inside the mountain. The volcano in southwest Washington made breaking news after it erupted May 18, 1980. It destroyed vast forests, vegetation, and ash was spewed as far as Interstate I-5.
According to EarthSky, Mount St. Helens has signs of “ongoing re-pressurization of its magma reservoir.” US Geological Survey scientists revealed last week that there’s been “uplift” and “minor earthquake activity.” Does this mean an eruption of the mountain is likely to occur anytime soon? Not at all. As they emphasized, just because the volcano isn’t erupting, doesn’t mean activity inside the magmatic system is still. Between 2004 and 2008 there was an eruptive period due to the mountain’s dome growth. Ever since the eruptive period for Mount St. Helens ended in 2008, the volcano has been inflating at a slow pace.
Low-level seismicity is also at play in the mountain and this has researchers thinking that the magmatic system is slowly refilling the surface about five miles down.
Scientists have determined that the next eruption won’t happen for several decades. According to World Science Report, Cascades Volcano Observatory and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has been monitoring the mountain’s behavior and “refueling” patterns since it erupted in 1980. They also don’t predict another eruption of Mount St. Helens anytime in the near future.
When Mount St. Helens erupted 34 years ago, it killed 57 people. It also destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railroad tracks, and 185 miles of highway. The environment was dark and ash lingered for weeks in the air. An Inquisitr article described the before-and-after destruction of Mount St. Helens in a NASA video time lapse.
If people visit the park at Mount St. Helens, one side of the road has been restored to natural vegetation while the other side reveals the true destruction of what the blast did with charred tree stumps and little to no growth of vegetation. It’s a surreal image that reminds everyone how powerful the explosion was. Huge fir trees became a pile of toothpicks and wildlife was cleared out in the surrounding areas of St. Helens. It was a blast so powerful, that it was a miracle not more than 57 people were killed.
Mount St. Helens is one of those volcanoes many are interested in due to its epic eruption back in 1980. Updates on this volcano’s activity will be reported on for years to come.
[Image Credit via USGS]