31 Year Anniversary of Mount St. Helens Eruption (31 Pics)

May 11th, 2011 Permalink

A major disaster happened 31 years ago. On May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook Mount St. Helens. The bulge and surrounding area slid away in a gigantic rockslide and debris avalanche, releasing pressure, and triggering a maassive pumice and ash eruption of the volcano. 1,300 feet (400 meters) of the peak collapsed or blew outwards. As a result, 24 square miles (62 square kilometers) of valley was filled by a debris avalanche, 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) of recreation, timber, and private lands were damaged by a lateral blast, and an estimated 200 million cubic yards (150 million cubic meters) of material was deposited directly by lahars (volcanic mudflows) into the river channels. 61 people were killed or are still missing.
The Mount St. Helens volcano is located in the Cascade Range. It’s a part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows. It’s been 31 years ago since the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens, so here’s a look at that blast – the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States – and five more throughout the years. [31 Photos]

Mt St Helens erupting with spirit lake reflection 05-19-82

Mount St. Helens erupting with Spirit Lake reflection 05-19-82. This was just the beginning. Mount St. Helens and the devastated area is now within the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, under jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service. Visitor centers, interpretive areas, and trails are being established as thousands of tourists, students, and scientists visit the monument daily. Mount St. Helens is once again considered to be one of the most beautiful and interesting of the Cascade volcanic peaks. Photo #1 by Lyn Topinka

Plumes of steam, gas, and ash often occurred at Mount St Helens

May 19, 1982: Plumes of steam, gas, and ash often occurred at Mount St. Helens in the early 1980s. On clear days they could be seen from Portland, Oregon, 50 miles (80 km) to the south. The plume photographed here rose nearly 3,000 feet (910 meters) above the volcano’s rim. The view is from Harrys Ridge, 5 miles (8 km) north of the mountain. Photo #2 by Lyn Topinka


1300 feet of mt st helens peak blew outwards 5-18-80

When Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 at 8:32 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook Mount St. Helens. The bulge and surrounding area slid away in a gigantic rockslide and debris avalanche, releasing pressure, and triggering a major pumice and ash eruption of the volcano. Thirteen-hundred feet (400 meters) of the peak collapsed or blew outwards. As a result, 24 square miles (62 square kilometers) of valley was filled by a debris avalanche, 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) of recreation, timber, and private lands were damaged by a lateral blast, and an estimated 200 million cubic yards (150 million cubic meters) of material was deposited directly by lahars (volcanic mudflows) into the river channels. Sixty-one people were killed or are still missing. USGS Photo #3 by Austin Post

FEMA Photo by NOAA News taken on 05-18-1980 mount saint helens erupting

Mount St. Helens, WA, May 18, 1980 — Disasters are devastating to the natural and man-made environment. FEMA provides federal aid and assistance to those who have been affected by all types of disaster. FEMA Photo #4 by NOAA News

close up During Mount St. Helens’ eruption on May 18th, 1980

During Mount St. Helens eruption on May 18th, 1980 a vigorous plume of ash erupted and remained for more than nine hours, eventually reaching 12 to 15 miles (20-25 kilometers) above sea level. The plume moved eastward at an average speed of 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers/hour), with ash reaching Idaho by noon. By early May 19, the devastating eruption was over. Shown here is a close-up view of the May 18 ash plume. Photo #5 by Donald A. Swanson

Car about 10 miles from Mount St Helens after eruption

Reid Blackburn’s (photographer, National Geographic, Vancouver Columbian) car, about 10 miles from Mount St. Helens after eruption. The catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. 57 people immediately were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, caused an eruption, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. Photo #6 by Danial Dzurisin

Spirit Lake, Pumice Plain, and phreatic explosions, soon after the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

Remember that beautiful lake in the first photo? Well this is the same lake later that day. Spirit Lake, Pumice Plain, and phreatic explosions, soon after the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Photo #7 by Dan Dzurision USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

eruption of the Mount St. Helens created lahars, which in turn destroyed more than 200 homes and over 185 miles of roads 7-19-1981

The May 18th, 1980 eruption of the Mount St. Helens created lahars, which in turn destroyed more than 200 homes and over 185 miles (300 kilometers) of roads. Pictured here is a damaged home along the South Fork Toutle River on July 19, 1981. Photo #9 by Lyn Topinka, USGS

After May 18th five more explosive eruptions of Mount St. Helens occurred in 1980, including this spectacular event of July 22nd

After May 18th, five more explosive eruptions of Mount St. Helens occurred in 1980, including this spectacular event of July 22nd. This eruption sent pumice and ash 6 to 11 miles (10-18 kilometers) into the air, and was visible in Seattle, Washington, 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the north. The view here is from the south. Photo #10 by Mike Doukas

Sunset on the July 22, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, looking northeast

Sunset on the July 22, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, looking northeast. USGS Photo #11 taken on July 22, 1980, by Rick Hoblitt

Sunset on  July 22, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, as seen from the northwest

Sunset on the July 22, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, as seen from the northwest. USGS Photo #12 taken on July 22, 1980, by Jim Vallance

mudline left behind along muddy river AFTER eruption mt st  helens10-23-80

Nearly 135 miles (220 kilometers) of river channels surrounding the volcano [Mt. St. Helens] were affected by the lahars of May 18, 1980. A mudline left behind on trees shows depths reached by the mud. A scientist (middle right) gives scale. This view is along the Muddy River, southeast of Mount St. Helens on October 23, 1980. Photo #13 by Lyn Topinka, USGS

In May 1985 a permanent tunnel was opened, allowing water to drain out of the Spirit Lake safely

In May 1985 a permanent tunnel was opened, allowing water to drain out of the Spirit Lake safely. This tunnel is 11 feet (3.4 meters) in diameter and more than 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) in length. The water level of Spirit Lake is now maintained at approximately 100 feet (30 meters) below the estimated overtopping level. USGS Photo #14 taken on October 2, 1986, by Lyn Topinkao

360° panorama of Mount Saint Helens from 4,100 feet on the North-Eastern slope near the summit of Alpine Butte. Mount Adams is visible on the left side

360° panorama of Mount Saint Helens from 4,100 feet on the North-Eastern slope near the summit of Alpine Butte. Mount Adams is visible on the left side. Photographed on the afternoon of September 14, 2009. Photo #16 by Gregg M. Erickson

Mount St. Helens from the ISS in 2002

Mount St. Helens from the ISS in 2002. In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state, destroying over 270 square miles of forest in a few seconds, and sending a billowing cloud of ash and smoke 80,000 feet into the atmosphere. The devastating effects of the eruption are clearly visible in this 2002 photo from the International Space Station. Photo #17 by NASA

a pyroclastic flow from the August 7, 1980 eruption stretches from Mount St. Helens' crater to the valley floor below

During the May 18, 1980 eruption, at least 17 separate pyroclastic flows descended the flanks of Mount St. Helens. Pyroclastic flows typically move at speeds of over 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers/hour) and reach temperatures of over 800 Degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius). Photographed here, a pyroclastic flow from the August 7, 1980 eruption stretches from Mount St. Helens’ crater to the valley floor below. USGS Photo #18 taken on August 7, 1980, by Peter W. Lipman

Aerial view, blowdown and Fawn Lake - Note Mount St. Helens in the background

Aerial view, blowdown and Fawn Lake – Note Mount St. Helens in the background. USGS Photo #19 taken on October 28, 1980, by Lyn Topinka

April 1980 a bulge develops on the north side of Mount St. Helens as magma pushed up within the peak BEFORE

April 27, 1980: A “bulge” developed on the north side of Mount St. Helens as magma pushed up within the peak. Angle and slope-distance measurements to the bulge indicated it was growing at a rate of up to five feet (1.5 meters) per day. By May 17, part of the volcano’s north side had been pushed upwards and outwards over 450 feet (135 meters). The view is from the northeast. Photo #20 by Peter Lipman

BEFORE View from helicopter of David Johnston near crest of the bulge on the north side of Mount St. Helens, sampling gases from fumaroles. David is near the center of the picture

View from helicopter of David Johnston near crest of the bulge on the north side of Mount St. Helens, sampling gases from fumaroles. David is near the center of the picture. Skamania County, Washington. May 17, 1980. Wikipedia notes that “David Alexander Johnston (December 18, 1949 – May 18, 1980) was an American volcanologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. One of the principal scientists on the monitoring team, Johnston died while manning an observation post about 6 miles (10 km) from the volcano on the morning of May 18, 1980. He was the first to report the eruption, transmitting the message “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” before being swept away by the lateral blast created by the collapse of the mountain’s north flank. Though Johnston’s remains have never been found, remnants of his USGS trailer were found by state highway workers in 1993.” Photo #21 Date 17 April 1980 by taken from USGS helicopter

July 1980 Aerial view, pryoclastic flow emerging from Mount St. Helens' crater

July 1980 Aerial view, pryoclastic flow emerging from Mount St. Helens’ crater. USGS Photo #22 taken at 7:01 p.m., on July 22, 1980, by Harry Glicken

Mt. St. Helens, Wash. (Oct. 1, 2004) – Mount St. Helens emits a plume of steam and ash from an area of new crevasses in the crater glacier south of the 1980-86 lava dome

Mt. St. Helens, Wash. (Oct. 1, 2004) — Mount St. Helens emits a plume of steam and ash from an area of new crevasses in the crater glacier south of the 1980-86 lava dome. The event lasted approximately 25 minutes and created a pale-gray cloud that reached an altitude of almost 10000 ft. The image was taken at an altitude of 27,000 ft aboard a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft assigned to the ‘Screaming Eagles’ of Patrol Squadron One (VP-1) stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. U.S. Navy Photo #23 taken by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Scott Taylor

Mount St. Helens and Crater Glacier, Cascade Range, Washington

Mount St. Helens and Crater Glacier, Cascade Range, Washington, United States 10-5-2000. Posteruption glacier development within the crater of Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA. Photo #24 by Bergman Photographic Services (under contract to U.S. Geological Survey)

Mount Saint Helens from west, State of Washington 9-15-2001

Mount Saint Helens from west, State of Washington 9-15-2001. Photo #25 by Larry G

mt st helens eruption - CDC

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, and became the epicenter of an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale. The CDC funded, and assisted in a series of studies on the health effects of the Mt. Saint Helens volcanic eruption, which included the consequences of dust inhalation. Photo #26 by CDC

small explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens on October 1 2004

A small explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens on October 1; the first in more than a decade—followed a week of increasing earthquake activity beneath the volcano and deformation of the lava dome. This eruption sent a steam and minor ash plume to an altitude of about 10,000 feet above sea level. Crater / Plume image Mount St. Helens. United States Geological Survey photograph taken at 12:13:01 PDT (19:13:01 GMT) on October 1, 2004. Photo #27 by John Pallister

south face of Mt St Helens during the eruption of March 8, 2005

South face of Mt St Helens during the eruption of March 8, 2005. Taken from Amboy, WA. Photo #28 by Matt Kennedy

Mount Saint Helens from Johnston Ridge, State of Washington

Mount Saint Helens from Johnston Ridge, State of Washington on 7-31-2007. Photo #29 by ArtBrom derivative work: Saibo

Mount St Helens Summit Panorama in 2009

360° panorama from the summit of Mount St. Helens as seen on an early-October afternoon. In the foreground is the ice-covered crater rim. Visible in the lower center is the lava dome. Steam rises from several dome vents. Above the dome, in the upper center, lies Mount Rainier and Spirit Lake. Mount Adams appears to the right of Rainier on the horizon as well as Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson on the far right. Also on the far right are glimpses of the Swift Reservoir, Yale Lake, Lake Merwin and the Lewis River. Climbers stand on the crater rim and are visible along the Monitor Ridge climbing route. Photo #30 by Gregg M. Erickson

Mount St Helens eruption -animation

Mount St Helens eruption – 31 years ago. Photo #31 by Harry Glicken / derivative work: Cz-David


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