NASA - Landsat Top Ten - Mount St. Helens: Volcanic Eruption and Recovery

NASA - Landsat Top Ten - Mount St. Helens: Volcanic Eruption and Recovery

Most of the geologic processes that shape our planet, such as the creeping movement of tectonic plates, are often too slow to see on human timescales, but every so often, geology produces a moment with in-your-face intensity. The explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State on May 18, 1980, was such a moment.

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Mount St. Helens Volcanic Research Area

Mount St. Helens Volcanic Research Area

INTRODUCTION
IN 1980, MOUNT ST. HELENS, a snow-capped mountain in southwest Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest, exploded. A debris avalanche, the largest in recorded history, and a laterally directed blast, as well as mudflows, pyroclastic flows, airborne ash and stones, and growth of a new lava dome created a real-time laboratory for scientists. Recognizing the unique opportunities for study, Congress passed the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Act in 1982, placing 106,255 acres within the monument to allow “geologic forces and ecological succession to continue substantially unimpeded.”

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