Mount St. Helen's Volcano


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Mount St. Helen's Volcano
Mount St. Helen's is a volcano that was more dangerous than people thought in the past. It was giving signs to the new settlers that came in, that it would erupt very soon by puffing out ash. Some ignored it and just thought of it as another mountain. The history of the eruption of Mount St. Helen's is very informative and was very damaging to land, animals, and people.
Indians that came to Mount St. Helen's way before it erupted heard from their ancestors that it was a volcano and not a mountain. They also told them that it had erupted in the past so they should be careful around it. Newcomers came and the Indians tried to tell them that it was a volcano, but they just ignored them. The volcano even puffed out ash occasionally as a warning that this was no mountain it was a volcano.

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Years before the main eruption, the volcano had perfect slopes from lava flow and ash deposits in the past. The earth would even occasionally shake and rumble from the volcano. Scientists said that giant slabs of the earth's crust rub together to form pockets of magma. That magma worked its way to the surface of Mount St. Helen's.
Mount St. Helen's started to become active again in 1842 when it had its first mini eruption. A reporter noted, "Vast columns of lurid smoke and fire…which after attaining a certain elevation, spread out in a line parallel to the horizon and presented the appearance of a vast table supported by immense pillars of convolving flame and smoke." (Staffs of the Daily News, Longview, Washington) Between 1842 and 1857, Mount St. Helen's was very active and had many small eruptions. It would eventually die down and not awaken for another 123 years.
One hundred and twenty three years later on March 17, 1980, an earthquake hit and activated the volcano. A mini eruption occurred but didn't harm anything. On March 20 an earthquake hit once again to stir it up for more action. On March 27, Mount St. Helen's had another mini eruption, this time shooting ash four miles into the air. It left a crater two hundred and fifty feet wide and sixty feet deep. This was the beginning of what was to come. A reporter said, "There was a hole in the snow on the north side of the peak. It was smudged with black ash, and the top, especially the north side, was shattered." (Bill Stewart) From March 17 and on many little eruptions occurred until the main eruption in May. Between mid-April to mid-May the volcano bulged 500 feet from its original surface.
The eruption came at a sudden time, and on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helen's erupted covering two hundred thirty two square miles with ash. A reporter quoted, "At 8:32 A.M. on May 18, 1980, an earthquake of magnitude 5 on the Richter scale shook the loose bulge on the north flank, which set off the eruption. (Lambert, M.B., Seattle) Just eight minutes after the eruption, the gas and ash cloud traveled ten miles killing Keith Ronnholm who was taking photos of the eruption.
The eruption destroyed much land and other geographical features. Rapid moving mud and debris-swelled rivers, smashed bridges, and ripped up houses from their foundations carrying them downstream. The cloud of ash, steam and hot gases moved down the slope with a destructive force and the velocity of three times the destructive force of the worst windstorm. The eruption took out forty-four thousand acres of forest and also killed many animals. The sky was just black from the ash and blocked the sunlight for days. Ash clung to plants' leaves for months blocking the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. It eventually ruined about seven percent of the crops that were affected by the volcano eruption. Temperatures in the clouds rose to about five hundred degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to light vegetation on fire. The ash was dumped the heaviest on the eastern part of Washington, and it was lightly dumped on Idaho and Montana from the west-to-east winds. By the third day the wind had carried the ash all the way over to the eastern part of the country, where it had minor effects. Mt. Rainer, which was fifty miles north of Mount St. Helen's, and Mt. Hood, which was sixty miles south of it, were rotting with steaming fumes. The smell of sulfur filled the air in vast areas.
The Mount St. Helen's eruption killed people and took many of their homes away. As soon it erupted people saw it coming, so they hopped in their cars and tried to flee from the ash. The ash was going so fast that it caught up to them in seconds, killing them. Many of the victims that died from the eruption died from ash being shoved down their throats and lungs. Others were sadly buried by the moving mud, debris, and ash. Some were even burned death. "In the wake of Mount St. Helen's nearly seventy people would perish (although the exact toll of victims buried under the mud may never be known for certain." (Pringle, Internet) The volcano destroyed a total three hundred homes. Nancy Althof was watching from a distance on a hill by their house and stated, "Cars and trucks were floating away like toys, and then it was like the houses were crushed like flies. They crashed and that's all there was. It took maybe five minutes." (Althof, Nancy, Washington)
Animals were also greatly affected by the eruption many of them tried to hide but died. Others survived in good sheltered spots. Of the 32 species of small mammals thought to be living near Mount St. Helen's, only 14 were known to have survived. "It obliterated twenty six lakes and damaged twenty seven others. A million and a half birds and animals died. Half a million fish were cooked to death in the rivers heated to nearly one hundred degrees Fahrenheit." (Lees, J.M., Internet) Many of the amphibians were inactive at the time of the eruption, and if they were, they burrowed into the bottom of the lakes and streams or beneath logs and rocks. Survival that was greatest in the animal kingdom was the amphibians group. They survived better than most groups because of the sheltering space of water and moist spots, although some of them got fried because the ash changed the temperature in the water so much. The last 19 years has been a time of intense change. Plants and animals have finally gained a foothold after the huge eruption, which left them helpless.
The states were left in ruin with death after death and people with no jobs. Mount St. Helen's was left with a huge crater and was very ugly. One reporter quoted, "The white virgin volcano is squat, ugly, and a truncated cone, resembling a huge decayed molar" (Editors of Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia) Now Mount St. Helen's stands one thousand three hundred and thirteen feet lower than before the eruption occurred. People have asked if the eruption will happen again. Scientists think that the time will be coming soon. They are guessing around the year of two thousand and twenty six.
In conclusion Mount St. Helen's was a destructive volcano destroying buildings, land, and people's belongings. This volcano was obviously a surprise to most people as it killed over seventy of them. Scientists were warning people about the power of this volcano. The people just ignored them and thought they didn't know what they were talking about. So it was somewhat the people's fault for their deaths or wounds. This just shows the power of God and people have to marvel at this wonder. Although the ash destroyed crops and forest it made the ground much more fertile for future growth. God works everything out for the good and that is one way of looking at it. For the future eruption of Mount St. Helen's people should be more aware of its power and hopefully have the brains to get out of there.

Works Cited
Editors of Time-life Books Volcano Planet Earth. Virginia: Alexandria, 1982
Francis, Peter Volcanoes Harmondsworth, England, 1978
Lambert, M.B. Volcanoes Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980
Staffs of the Daily News, Longview, Washington Volcano: The Eruption Of Mt. St. Helen's Washington: Madrona, 1980
Lees, J.M. Before and after eruption volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/ img_st_helens.html
Pringle, Mt. St. Helens National Monument
vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/framework.html

Working Bibliography
Editors of Time-life Books Volcano Planet Earth. Virginia: Alexandria, 1982
Francis, Peter Volcanoes Harmondsworth, England, 1978
Lambert, M.B. Volcanoes Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980
Staffs of the Daily News, Longview, Washington Volcano: The Eruption Of Mt. St. Helen's Washington: Madrona, 1980
Fremont, M (August 1998) Information statements of the eruption www.geophys.washington.edu/SEIS/PNSN/HELENS/
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/
Lees, J.M. Before and after eruption volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/ img_st_helens.html
Malone, S.D. Science.com(1991) Eruption on May 18,1980 www.science.uwaterloo.ca/earth/geoscience/mtsth.html
Pringle, Mt. St. Helens National Monument
vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/framework.html
When will Mt. St. Helens erupt again volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/ img_st_helens.ht


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