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May-18-2007 06:20printcomments

Today is the 27TH Anniversary of the Mt. Saint Helens Eruption

Nearly 230 square miles of forest was blown down or buried beneath volcanic deposits.

mt saint helens
Photo: USGS

(TOUTLE, Wash.) - At 8:32 AM Sunday morning, May 18th, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted.

Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche.

Fifty-seven people were killed; and 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways and 185 miles of highway were destroyed.

Nearly 230 square miles of forest was blown down or buried beneath volcanic deposits.

At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond.

The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments.

In all, St. Helens released an amount of energy equivalent to 27,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs (approximately 350 megatons).

In 1982, the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

On May 18th, geologist Tom Pierson of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory will present two 25-minute slide talks in the observatory auditorium.

The talks will be presented at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.

Visitors to the Johnston Ridge Observatory have a rare opportunity to witness a volcanic eruption first hand and observe the heaped up and cracked glacial ice that is flowing north in the crater.

The Crater Glacier has been stacked up by the growing lava dome and is gradually surrounding the lava dome that formed between 1980 and 1986.

The ongoing eruption has provided scientists with an excellent opportunity to test remote monitoring equipment and ideas (hypotheses) about how volcanoes work.

In the months and possibly years ahead we will watch with interest to see what the future holds for the Pacific Northwest's youngest and most dynamic volcano.

Johnston Ridge Observatory is located at mile post 52 on State Route 504 (Spirit Lake Memorial Highway).

The visitor center is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily. Today admission is free.

Starting on May 19th admission to the Monument visitor centers (Johnston Ridge Observatory and Coldwater Visitor Center) will be via a Monument Pass. Monument Passes are available at the visitor centers for $8 per adult, youth age 15 and under are free.

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Krakatoa May 19, 2007 7:40 am (Pacific time)

It was a combination of composition B and something else that we're still running labs on. Appears Rosie O'Donnel has the info but is withholding it, why I do not know.

Rosenberg May 18, 2007 12:42 pm (Pacific time)

I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the Carter Administration planted explosives to cause this eruption to help his upcoming election in November. It did not work!

Bonnie May 18, 2007 9:42 am (Pacific time)

We were ashed in Dayton too...all the way down here! There's a pic in our annual of students wearing masks at school because of the ash in the air. What a sight it was!

Mike May 18, 2007 8:43 am (Pacific time)

I can remember watching Richard Ross on KATU eating pancakes that morning, wondering if the ash would make it down to Salem or Portland.

John Albany May 18, 2007 6:31 am (Pacific time)

I was 10 when this happened. I can remember being at church at everyone talking about it and wondering if ash was going to come to the mid-valley.

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