Mount St. Helens ‘Recharging’ With 55 Seismic Events Since April

Category: Science Written by Jason Martin 261 12

CASCADE RANGE  – Since early last month, small earthquakes have been cropping up deep beneath Mount St Helens at ‘relatively high rates,’ bringing roughly one tremor every few hours.

In the last 30 days, scientists have detected 55 seismic events in the vicinity, and say there may be well over 100 earthquakes linked to the swarm so far.

As reported by the Daily Mail, he activity falls in line with magma recharge thought to be underway since 2008.
But, don’t start panicking just yet – for now, scientists say there’s no sign of ‘imminent eruptive activity.’

Scientists with the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) first detected the earthquakes on April 21, according to the USGS.

Mount St. Helens 'recharging'
Mount St. Helens ‘recharging’

Even though these signs of re-growth are positive, there are also signs of increased seismic activity in the mountain.

“Mount St. Helens is at normal background levels of activity,” Liz Westby, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey–Cascades Volcano Observatory, told ABC News. “But a bit out of the ordinary are several small magnitude earthquake swarms in March to May 2016, November 2016 and April 16 to May 5, 2017. During the April 16 to May 5, 2017, swarm, we detected well over 100 earthquakes, all below a magnitude 1.3.”

And even though there is a swarm of earthquakes, Westby said that doesn’t mean that an eruption of Mount St. Helens is coming. Volcanic forecasts can be tricky.

“There are several reasons why it is very unlikely that this swarm is a precursor to imminent eruptive activity at Mount St. Helens. It is similar to ones in the past that did not lead to surface activity. It consists of very small earthquakes occurring at relatively low rates. There are no other geophysical indicators (like surface deformation, tilting, increased volcanic gas emissions) of unrest,” she told ABC News.

Westby said these swarms are extremely interesting and helpful to scientists, since each geophysical signal gives them a better understanding of how a volcano functions.

“This is why we maintain a close watch over these giants, so we can detect the earliest signs of reawakening,” she said.

“There are several reasons why it is very unlikely that this swarm is a precursor to imminent eruptive activity at Mount St. Helens – it is similar to the ones in the past that did not lead to surface activity,” the USGS explains.

“It consists of very small earthquakes occurring at relatively low rates; there are no other geophysical indicators (deformation, tilt, gas) of unrest.”

Thirty-seven years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted, killing 57 people, blasting more than 1,300 feet off the top and raining volcanic ash for miles around.

Today, the volcano has become a world-class outdoor laboratory for the study of volcanoes, ecosystems and forestry, as well as a major recreational and tourist destination.

Some 3.2 billion tons of ash spewed into the surrounding area, according to the United States Geological Survey. Streets and buildings were covered, and the eruption caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.

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12 thoughts on “Mount St. Helens ‘Recharging’ With 55 Seismic Events Since April

  1. drake

    Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 after two months of increasing volcanic activity. That event is widely considered the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history…lets hope that doesn’t happen again

  2. war

    lived in Kansas at the time of the eruption. Approximately two weeks afterwards I was heading to the grocery store it starting raining mud. Weird sight to say the least.

  3. ffff

    Yep, I was standing in the front yard when those evil looking grey/black cotton ball clouds started rolling in and all the birds got quiet like the sun was gong down. The lightning going through the clouds… it looked like the end of he world. It was wild

  4. Jan33

    I will never forget this day! One week before my high school graduation. My brother was visiting our father in Ellensburg when the volcano erupted. It turned pitch dark at noon and the cows went crazy and started mooing. The ash started raining down and it was awful! Alan could not travel back home because the ash was stalling engines.

  5. dara

    I was a student at Oregon College of Education in Monmouth. It was a Sunday, and a group of us were playing softball at the city park in Falls City. Had no idea the eruption has taken place. I got back to my apartment around 5:00, flipped on the television to watch some news, and there it was. Crazy.

  6. asey

    Remember it well. It was the day before I arrived at DFW to work for the next six years. The 2 hottest selling t-shirts of that summer were: I survived the Texas heat wave of 1980 and the I survived the eruption of Mt. St. Helen, complete with holes throughout the shirt.

  7. Phillll

    Let’s think about the exaggerated claims of Man’s impact on the world we live in. Man’s effect doesn’t amount to a pimple on a gnats posterior. This is but a small taste of the grandeur and power of nature and the world we inhabit.

  8. Dirk

    I visited the park there in the early 90s. They had constructed an observation area across the valley with photos taken during and after the event. Most striking was all the timber that had been felled by the blast lying in windrows across the valley, useless for anything because the eruption had impregnated the wood so full of silica that it could not be burnt or processed into any kind of wood based products. It’s worth a trip if you ever go up that way.

  9. claud

    I live in western Washington and I happened to be going down to Olympia to see my grandmother that day. I could see the large smoke plume but didn’t realize the mountain had erupted until later. I knew a few people who flew rescue missions and saw their pictures first hand. I don’t think of living in a state with active volcanoes often but it was forefront that day.

  10. jess

    Ole W is drunk and having a blast, sitting back laughing as we crumble. I can see it on Saturday Night Live now, “and y’all thought I fuc@&! Sh!! up….

  11. jefrank

    love how everyone who call him names such as “retard” probably have room temperature IQ’s and “W” has a near genius level IQ according to tests he took when he was in college.

  12. al

    Little George always makes me think of the Goblins at Gringotts! Sorry, but he just has that stare and bone structure!

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