Mount St. Helens

MountSt. Helens

OnMay 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens experienced a massive volcaniceruption. It happened in the early morning hours, precisely, 8:32a.m. The land surrounding the mountain underwent a significantchange. Before the eruption, there had been small earthquakes thatweakened the mountain, hence, the reason the north part broke downquickly. It released scalding ash, gas, and rocks violently, whichcaused massive damage in the adjacent region within 230 square miles.Furthermore, an avalanche formed by the debris that hit the SpiritLake, leading to the 850 feet tsunami.Before it happened, therewere signs that the mountain would blow up, and the people fearedwhat would occur in the wake of the long dormant volcano activity.Mount Saint Helens glaciers were the primary source of water forRiver Toutle since it was a valuable fishing point in Washington(Toutle Temperature Reaches 920).

Accordingto Donal Mullineaux, an expert from the United States GeologicalSurvey, he had observed that the molten rocks would bulge outeventually, but not in the form of liquid. It would be thick andlikely to happen any time since the magma down in the crater wasmoving about five feet in a day (Belcher). When it finally happened,the explosion of caused massive devastation. Themountain`s height was reduced to 2560m from 2950m due to the massivelandslide. Plants, including fully-grown trees, and animals weredestroyed in a radius of 25km from the point of explosion. The riverswere choked with mud, killing all fish and other living things in thewater instantly. Moreover, tons of giant rocks were reduced intopebbles and then blown away from the mountain. The ash drifted likestorm clouds passing over the Yellowstone National Park, Montana, andpart of Wyoming (St. Helens Still Spewing Ash).

Thesnow, superheated gas, and hot ash churned into mudflow that wasdozens of feet thick. It gained momentum and started flowing fastthrough the timber and into the Spirit Lake, Cowlitz, and Toutlerivers. The following day, after the explosion, there was no water,the lake and rivers were full of mud (Johnston). The water in thelake boiled giving it a new shape (Belcher). The flowing pyroclasticraged from the volcano at a speed of 125 mph with a temperature ofabout 650 degrees Celsius. It formed pumice rock of 15.5 squarekilometers on the northern side of the mountain. The ash fell on theland hundreds of miles away. It made the vegetation appear as if itwere covered with snow. The new deposits resulted in a new landscape,which was suitable for some species (St. Helens Still Spewing Ash).

Theeditorials I selected have helped me to understand the way Mount St.Helens exploded and the land changes that occurred. The areasurrounding the mountain is full of life, and it is not easy tobelieve that the eruption had eliminated many species now. Thoughabout 500 square km of the forest was flattened, the staggeringbiological destruction did not stop life in this area. The treesdestroyed were enough to build half a million three bed-roomed houses(Johnston). The living organisms in River Toutle died, and 24 km ofthe river disappeared. The winter rains helped the rivers and thelake to recover gradually (Johnston). The newspaper articles coveredthe stories as they happened. Nevertheless, currently, the Mountainand its surroundings are full of life.

Havingread the devastating stories about ’ eruption, Iwould like to ask, are people aware it can happen again? If yes, whatare they doing to prevent vast destruction and loss of lives? According to Dr, Mike Garcia, a professor at Hawaii Institute ofGeophysics and Planetology University, the mountain is likely toerupt between the next 100 and 300 years (Toutle Temperature Reaches920). Who is sure it cannot happen earlier?


“BulgingVolcano: Molten Rock Expanding Side of St. Helen’s.” TheSeattle Times.May 6, 1980. Oct. 26, 2016. 25c.

“St.Helens Still Spewing Ash, but Scientists Believe Worst is Over.”TheSeattle Times.May 19, 1980. Web. Oct. 26, 2016. 25c.

“ToutleTemperature Reaches 920.”TheSeattle Times.May 19, 1980. Web. Oct. 26, 2016. E8.

Belcher,Rod. “St. Helen’s Threatens Stream Fishing ‘Gem’.” TheSeattle Times.May 4, 1980. Web. Oct. 26, 2016.

Johnston,Steve. “Spirit Lake’s Name is Mud Now: Thousands of Steam VentsHiss at Fallen Beauty.” TheSeattle Times. May21, 1980. Web. Oct. 26, 2016. D2.