Scientists are marking the 10th anniversary since Mount Saint Helens last erupted. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that it has better equipment in place that can estimate when the volcano will erupt, which is not sometime soon.
The USGS recorded a number of earthquakes under Mount Saint Helens on Sept. 23, 2004, and the volcano finally erupted on Oct. 1, 2004 and lava stopped flowing in 2008. The volcano eruption did cause a lot of damage to the area around it. However, the damage caused by the eruption was nowhere near to what it was in 1980.
On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted and the U.S. witnessed the worst volcanic disaster that savaged miles of areas around it. Reports suggest that more than 50 people died due to the eruption, about 250 homes, 47 bridges, 185 miles, or 298 kilometers, of highways and 15 miles, or 24 kilometers of railway tracks were also destroyed. The eruption also resulted in the reduction of the mountain’s elevation from 9,677 feet, or 2,950 meters to 8,365 feet, or 2,550 meters.
The devastating effect of the volcano eruption also led to the advancements in technology that can help scientists develop tools for better investigation, monitoring any eruption and also observing seismic conditions just before and after the end of any volcanic eruption.
“Every eruption that we observe contributes some new clues about volcanic systems, and opportunities to test equipment and warning systems useful for saving lives at volcanoes in the U.S. and around the world,” says John Ewert, Scientist-in-Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. “Mount St. Helens has become our ‘go-to backyard volcano’ for testing volcano monitoring tools and models applied to understanding re-awakening volcanic systems.”
The scientists reveal that even though the lava dome has not erupted since 2008, it is changing shape. The scientists also reveal that the magma chamber five miles below the volcano is also recharging. Seismic researchers are observing the recharging rate of the magma and trying to establish if magma can compress in the chamber or will it flow outside the volcano on to the surface of earth.
USGC reveals that it was successfully able to predict the volcano eruption by monitoring the earthquakes but they also came across certain weaknesses of their monitoring system. The agency has since then also installed extra equipment to monitor the volcanic eruption even better.
USGC also suggests that eruption of Mount Saint Helens is inevitable; however, it can take many years and decades before the volcano erupts. The scientists also suggest that the eruption will damage areas around it but the next eruption is not estimated to what it was in 1980.
Check out the video that USGS has released in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the last volcanic event at Mount Saint Helens.