Mount St Helens is still an important subject of study for the scientists. In the spring of 1980, the magma inside the volcano rose about 5 feet each day for a few weeks until it violently erupted on May 18th and the large northern side collapsed. The eruption was 80,000 high and spread in the surrounding area.
The catastrophe lasted for 9 hours, lowered the volcano height by 1,300 feet, destroyed 200 homes, 27 bridges and killed 57 people. Since then, the volcanic activity has been carefully observed by scientists to prevent another cataclysm.
Before 1980, it was rarely seen such massive ground downfall during an eruption. According to a volcanologist and courtesy professor at the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Oregon, Michael Dungan, it has become easy for scientists since then to predict any future ground collapse eruptions.
Plus, Mount St. Helens has provided them with crucial information regarding the volcano science and monitoring. After the 1980’s eruption, Dungan was able to identify other similar eruption in Chile and other parts of South America.
A ground collapse during an eruption is rather unusual because a typical eruption means magma flowing quietly on the ground or volcanic ash spewing into the air. Moreover, only three other eruptions were ever recorded besides the one in 1980, leaving little information behind.
In 1888, Mount Bandai collapsed in Japan. Back then, the only information left were some hand-drawn images. Then, Mount Lamington collapsed in 1951 in Papua New Guinea having mostly aborigines as witnesses. And the third, Bezymianny collapsed in 1955 in Kamchatka, Russia. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union released the information about the eruption only a few decades later.
Together with the Mount St. Helens eruption, the American public, and the scientists were given the chance to capture the event through photography and on television. Plus, other projects were funded such as the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program and the Cascades Volcano Observatory.
About 130 small earthquakes have been recently registered around Mount St. Helens between March 14 and May 9. However, scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and the U.S. Geological Survey told everyone to rest assured because these magnitudes are less than 1.3.
Image Source: KPTV