The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

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The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

Mount St. Helens is one of the volcanic mountains in the Cascade Range found in the northwestern edges of the United States. It is located in the state of Washington. It is the youngest volcanoes in the region, and it remains active today. The western coast is part of the North American plate. The friction of the Juan de Fuca plate and the larger North American plate causes numerous instances of seismic activity, and the mountain lies near this boundary. Before the eruption, people living in the area had received warnings as geologists had detected small earthquakes and that had been followed by shockwaves.

 Small eruptions began to appear, and there were discharges of steam and ash. At the time, geologists had begun using equipment that enabled them to capture the eruptions as they occurred (Bagley). The scientists monitored the eruptions, and they were able to establish how it expanded. Although geologists had begun monitoring the volcano in March, its occurrence in May was sudden. Before the volcano erupted, there was hardly any seismic activity (Bagley). The lack of activity and the sudden eruption contributed to the high level of destruction that happened.

Mount St. Helens is a composite volcano, which is also known as a stratovolcano. The steep sides and symmetrical cones that have been constructed from volcanic debris such as ash and lava define this geographical feature (Casey). These types of volcanoes tend to erupt explosively. The lava flows slowly, and it does not travel far from the vent. The magma has high viscosity, and this leads to the greater explosion of these volcanoes. In many cases, composite volcanoes are proven more dangerous than shield volcanoes. This intensity is not only because of their explosive nature but because they have no historic activity and this causes people to ignore any given warning.

Mount St. Helens’ eruption caused the death of more than fifty people. Its sudden nature made it impossible for many people to take action. It scattered ash in the surrounding region and nearby states as well. The blast caused physical changes on the volcano, and it removed the top. The shockwaves were intense, and the surrounding landscape changed drastically (Taylor). Many animals died, with estimates indicating that about 7,000 big animals died because of the volcano (Casey). Forests were flattened, and in the process, timber of great value was destroyed. There was melting of snow and ice, and this caused mudflows and flooding of the river.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens is considered one of the worst in U.S. history because of the lives lost and the damaged caused. In 1912, the Novarupta in Alaska had spread more debris, but it did not cause as much damage because it was isolated and there were fewer people in the area. The eruption flattened forests and left the area bare. The lake was buried as the ash and mud flowed. Today, the Spirit Lake in the region is new, and it is not the same lake that was there before the eruption. The previously forested areas were bare for a long time, but trees have started to grow again. The setting up of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Congress was instrumental in enabling the area to recover again after the volcano eruption since the disaster had limited the human activity in the region.

Works Cited

Bagley, Mary. “Mount St. Helens Eruption: Facts & Information.” Live Science, 28 Feb. 2013, Accessed 11 Oct. 2018.

Casey, Michael. “35 Years after Mount St. Helens Eruption, Nature Returns.” CBS, 18 May 2015, Accessed 11 Oct. 2018.

Taylor, Alan. “The Eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.” The Atlantic, 18 May 2015, Accessed 11 Oct. 2018.

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