Mount St. Helens

Again the scene of a major disaster, this time one that did not happen thousands of years ago but in terms of geology only seconds ago. Many of us may remember the day in September 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted, taking a heavy toll on human life and so making the headline in every news presentation. Geologists from the USGS had predicted the outbreak and had even manned observation posts but nobody of the scientists had expected an inferno like this.

The first major eruption included four different phases, starting with a major landfall that pushed away a major piece of the mountain's flank in seconds, caused by the incredible pressure inside the mountain's magma chamber. Millions of tons of rock and earth were pushed into the valley, releasing the inside pressure within seconds.

An incredible blast of hot gases, rocks, broken trees, a pyroclastic flow, roared through the surrounding valleys, killing everything in its way. Within seconds it vaporized the ground water with its incredible heat, thereby creating additional explosions. The blast even pushed away the water of the surrounding lakes and sent it high up the surrounding mountains, taking all trees with it when it returned in its old beds.

Melting snow and glacier ice created mud floods that rushed downhill for hours, taking away bridges and homes that happened to be in their way. And finally escaping lava started to form a new crater dome within the now devastated mountain, a process that still continues today. Inside Mount St. Helens the titanic forces of nature are still working and the next major outbreak is only a question of timeā€¦


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