In the article Making Sense of Mount St. Helens by Steve Nash, the author discusses the huge, catastrophic eruption in 1980, the environmental impact of the eruption, biological legacies, how the eruption helps better understand the process of succession, and the resurgence of scientific research at Mount St. Helens. Nash talks about the restrained locution of ecology, and what occurred in 1980 was not just a "disturbance." It instantly altered the still Fuji-form symmetry volcanic look, with lush forests, meadows, and clear, snow-fed lakes extending north around a huge, deep side-blown crater (Nash, 2010). The eruption's first phase was the largest avalanche in recorded history, with speeds up to 70 meters per second. This was followed within seconds by a blast that elevated matter up into the sky that rained ash over 11 states. Mudflows began almost immediately, hurling liquefied sand, gravel, rock, earth, and other debris down the North Fork Toutle River Valley, some of it eventually reached the Columbia River. The May 18, 1980 eruption was the most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history, 57 people were killed.
Despite the enormous destruction and loss created by this eruption, it also set forth an equal potential for creation. The eruption created an opportunity for scientists and researchers to study the changes the natural destruction formed on the landscape. Following the eruption, Nash talked about a scientist, Virginia Dale, who made a research proposal a few days after the eruption. "There was a lot of interest in how life was going to return to the area" she says now. "A general sense was that life had been wiped out in the blast zone, so a big question was what's goi...
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...are, especially where we know what's happened for 30 years” (Nash, 2010).
Mount St. Helens has helped revise one of ecology's oldest preoccupations: trying to recapitulate the story of how communities of plants and animals assemble themselves over time--how one suite of species succeeds another (Nash, 2010). The author explains that there is far more biological diversity at Mount St. Helens today than before the eruption. That after 30 years, Mount St. Helens had a boisterous return of thousands of species. But, the reassembly of the former evergreen forest could take hundreds of years, or it may not return at all. More eruptions may generate a different outcome, or Global warming might just bring a more open, pine-dominated forest instead. Mount St. Helens has become a biological hot spot for the whole Cascade Range, from California to British Columbia (Nash, 2010).
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