The Eruption of Mount Saint Helens, On May 18th, 1980, in Washington State

“The Eruption of Mount St. Helens” On May 18th, 1980, in Washington State, the volcano, Mount St. Helens erupted. This eruption caused widespread terror throughout the towns surrounding the mountain. The magma from the volcano burned up the forest and killed most of the animals in the area. It affected the wildlife greatly because, after the eruption, the ecosystem was burned and smoldered thus killing thousands of animals in the region. This eruption was the deadliest of all the volcanic activity in the United States, and the people who live near the mountain are still affected by what the eruption did to this day.

There were many warning signs that preceded the nine-hour eruption of Mount St. Helens. After being dormant for 123 years, the volcano showed her first sign of life on Thursday, March 20th. There was a 4. 1 magnitude earthquake that centered directly underneath of the volcano. A week later, the snow on the mountain smudged because of the ash. On March 30th, 79 earthquakes were recorded on the mountain! A few days later, on April 3rd, tremors were recorded signaling movement of magma deep within the volcano. By that time, ash, rocks, and ice chunks were daily occurrences and the slopes were ash-covered.

A few days before the eruption, it all stopped. But on May 18th, it all went wrong … On May 18th, 1980, the worse volcanic eruption in United States history occurred. Mount St. Helens, in Washington States, violently erupted. At 8:32 A. M. a 5. 1 magnitude earthquake struck about one mile below the mountain, causing the largest landslide in history. The snow and ice moved at speeds of more than 175 miles per hour and removed over 1300 feet from the summit, sweeping away almost the entire North side of the mountain. The landslide raised temperatures about 60 degrees higher than usual.

There was a lot of ash that came out of the volcano when it erupted as well. The ash caused a major problem to the townspeople because it contaminated the oil systems, clogged air filters, and scratched any moving surfaces, like cars and other vehicles. Particularly small, finer ash particles caused electrical shorts in transformers. This caused town wide blackouts. Also, the elevation of the mountain dropped from 9677 feet to 8363 feet. It decreased more than 1300 feet! This famous eruption had many affects on the wildlife and the people in the region.

Thousands of small game, fish, insects and birds were killed along with black-tailed deer, elk, bears, and goats. All life in Spirit Lake was slain as well. The residents and visiting tourist of the area were affected too. There were a lot of architectural damages. For example, about 250 houses were obliterated. Roads and railways were destroyed. Also, 27 bridges were demolished. 57 people died and 36 more were rescued from being trapped underneath of debris or in their cars. There was significant crop loss in the area, about $100 million.

The logging industry was hit hardest. About 25% of the forest had been wiped out, enough to build 300,000 two-bedroom homes! This eruption did not take it easy on the area. Despite how much damage it did, people still came together to try to help out. Their efforts have really paid off. Most of the houses have been rebuilt. But some still suffer from the flood damage. A significant number of trees have grown back, too. However, the timber industry isn’t back to the rate it was before the eruption, but it is still recovering steadily.

It has been a pretty long time since this occurrence, but Spirit Lake still is inhabitable for fish. Only small creatures and bacteria can survive. Many people wonder “When can we expect it erupt again? ” No one can really tell for sure. The eruption of 1980 wasn’t predicted, and future eruptions will probably also be unpredictable. But before the eruption of 1980, the volcano had been dormant for well over 100 years. The volcano can erupt whenever it wishes, whether it be tomorrow or another hundred years from now! Well then when will it erupt? Only time will tell.