Comments: BREAKING: Mt. St. Helens Erupts

Mount Saint Helens is a widely known mountain, but why? Some may say it is a great location for vacation and others may say it is good for hiking. The largest and most memorable moment on Mount Saint Helens, however, is it’s devastating eruption in 1980.

This young mountain was formed by the accumulation of lava and tephra–materials of all sorts deposited by volcanic vents blasting them into the air. Named after a British diplomat, Alleyne Fitzherbert (also known as Baron Saint Helens), Mount Saint Helens has a tremendously long history and legends told by the northwest Indians. They state that the mountains were once people. They also suggested that St. Helens Mountain was a beautiful lady named “Loowit.” “Wyeast” and “Klickitat” were two brothers that desired the love of and clashed over her, destroying forests and towns as they fought. Wyeast and Klickitat’s father, “Sahale,” found out about this and destroyed all three of them. Where each of them died a mountain formed: A beautiful mountain for Loowit (Mount Saint Helens), a proud mountain for Wyeast (Mount Hood) and a mourning


mountain for Klickitat (Mount Adams). This story was just one of the many perspectives on Mount Saint Helen’s existence.

An overwhelming disaster occurred at 46° N 122° W when Mt. St. Helens erupted 25 years ago. This explosion changed the concerns of many and woke mankind up to reality. Before the eruption, Mount St. Helens had a summit altitude of 9,677 feet! The peak was more than 5,000 feet above its base and the mountain was six miles across at ground level. On May 18, 1980, this all changed. The once most beautiful and frequently climbed mountain turned into a disaster. During the eight weeks before the eruption the north end of Saint Helens started to swell until it was a few hundred meters bigger and also very unstable. On the morning of May 18 an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale made the unsteady North Slope collapse and created the largest landslide in history. It plummeted into Spirit Lake at 150 miles per hour. Leaving less pressure on the magma residing beneath the volcano, gas came out

at amazing speeds, driving the appalling eruption of May 18, 1980 into action.


At the time of the eruption the volcano literally ‘blew up’. The whole northern slope exploded from the release of gas. For almost nine hours a strong cloud of ash erupted, eventually reaching 12 to 15 miles above sea level. The column stirred eastward at a speed of 60 miles per hour, reaching Idaho by noon. It destroyed man-made material, plant life and animal life. At the mountain, fiery debris rained for miles around destroying forests, houses and killing approximately 65 people.

This explosion was followed by a series of eruptions that lasted six whole years. Of course, these were of much less power because much of the pressure had been released in the first eruption. They consisted of lava instead of the ash in the 1980’s and instead of flying into the air the lava oozed and flowed out.

After the eruption the new summit was only 8 525 feet from ground level. The forests surrounding the mountains were singed and no good for lumber, the main industry in the area. Many citizens became jobless and the tourist industry excelled. Many peoples lives were changed and donations for volcanology increased amazingly. The major effect, though, was the waking up of the most powerful country on earth to the realism of volcanic eruptions.

Mount Saint Helens placed an indelible mark on the land, minds, and people of America. With one natural happening a country changed. Just that single day altered the attitudes of many, and opened the eyes of all.

Posted by Cam at May 11, 2005 09:52 PM