Mount St. Helen Essay

3077 words - 12 pages

Mount St. Helen

Mount St. Helens Location: Washington, United States Latitude: 46.20 N Longitude: 122.18 W height: 2,549 meters or 8,364 feet - 9,677 feet before May 18, 1980 Type: Stratovolcano Number of eruptions in past 200 years: 2-3 Latest Eruptions: Between 1660-1700, around 1800-1802, 1831, 1835, 1842-1844, 1847-1854, 1857, 1980-? Present thermal activity: strong steaming Nickname: Mount Fuji of the West Remarks: continuous intermittent activity since 1980 with occasional eruptions of steam and ash; occasional pyroclastic flows; intermittent dome forming. MSH is considered a young volcano that developed over the last 40,000 years and is one of the most active volcanoes in the Cascade Range. Geologists predicted that the volcano would erupt before the year 2000. The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount SH was the most destructive in the history of the United States. In a matter of hours, MSH caused loss of lives and widespread destruction of valuable property because of the avalanche, lateral blast and mudflows. On March 20, 1980, starting with an earthquake that was followed by many others, MSH became active again after a quiet period of 123 years. On March 27, 1980, there was a huge explosion and MSH began blowing ash and steam. This lasted until May 14, 1980. The explosion in March opened up two craters that quickly became one huge crater. While this was happening, an enormous bulge on the north side of the mountain top appeared. It grew about six feet each day. Geologist kept measuring the bulge, recording the earthquakes and sampling the ash and gases. By May, the bulge was 300 feet wide and more than one mile in length. On May 18 at 8:32 in the morning, Mount St.. Helens erupted taking the top 1,200 feet off the volcano. The eruption went on until nightfall. The area of destruction was 230 square miles and was one of the largest landslides ever recorded in history. The blast was preceded by two months of intense activity that included over 10,000 earthquakes, hundreds of small phreatic (steam blasts) , explosions and the north side bulge. A magnitude 5.1 earthquake below the volcano at 8:32 am started the eruption. MSH is still a potentially dangerous and active volcano even though it has been quiet since 1995. In the last 515 years there have been four major eruptions and dozens of lesser eruptions. Two of the eruptions were only two years apart. In 1480, the eruption was about five times larger than the one in May 1980. There have been even larger eruptions during MSH' 50,000 year lifetime. After the May 18, 1980 eruption, there have been five smaller explosive eruptions over a five month period. Since then, there have been 16 dome building eruptions through October 1986 when the new dome in the crater was formed. As the mountain was torn open, the pressure in inside was suddenly relieved. The rock shattered inside the mountain was exploded out the top at speeds over 200 miles per hour. The blast was so strong that it leveled whole...

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