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40 years ago - Mount St. Helens

40 years ago - Mount St. Helens

Old May 17, 20, 9:04 am
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40 years ago - Mount St. Helens

Sunday, May 18, 1980 - Mount St. Helens erupted, killing at least 55 people and changing not only the landscape of southern Washington, but also the way we look at volcanoes in our region. More eruptions are possible, indeed likely, but now they could threaten a helluva lot of people.



I had flown over Mt. St. Helens not long before it erupted. That's it at the bottom of this picture, with Mount Adams above. It was one beautiful mountain.



... and now...



Mount Rainier from Tacoma



Mount Hood from Portland

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Old May 17, 20, 10:52 am
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Just a tiny taste of what the Yellowstone eruption will be like.
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Old May 17, 20, 8:30 pm
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I think I still have a bottle of Mt. St. Helens ash stashed away somewhere. It was a big selling item back then.

Originally Posted by WilcoRoger View Post
Just a tiny taste of what the Yellowstone eruption will be like.
Like a bee sting giving you a tiny taste of what it's like to be eaten by a lion.

A Yellowstone eruption would be a completely different scale and experience, by multiple orders of magnitude - 240 cubic miles of ejecta vs. about 1 cubic mile for their last eruptions. VEI 8 vs. 5.

Fortunately, it's not "due" for a large eruption for about 100,000 years (though extrapolations from previous periods between eruptions is pretty meaningless).
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Old May 17, 20, 8:40 pm
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I remember the eruption as it darkened the skies in Saskatoon and dropped a thin film of ash on everything. As a young teen it didn't really register at the time how big a deal the eruption was but later when the National Geographic issues my parents subscribed to began to arrive and really dissect the eruption with colour maps I came to appreciate the magnitude of the eruption. I think of that still when I fly in the Pacific Northwest and glimpse the snowy peaks out the aircraft window.
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Old May 18, 20, 5:20 am
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Originally Posted by CPRich View Post
Like a bee sting giving you a tiny taste of what it's like to be eaten by a lion.

A Yellowstone eruption would be a completely different scale and experience, by multiple orders of magnitude - 240 cubic miles of ejecta vs. about 1 cubic mile for their last eruptions. VEI 8 vs. 5.

Fortunately, it's not "due" for a large eruption for about 100,000 years (though extrapolations from previous periods between eruptions is pretty meaningless).
Yeah, Yellowstone will be similar to Mt Toba - the end of civilisation as we know it. Factoid - the Indian subcontinent (quite a distance away) was covered by up to 5m of ash. Now imagine the same in today's N-America, Europe, E-Asia...
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Old May 19, 20, 6:53 am
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I visited the mountain back in 2017 for the first time. It was amazing how quickly life came back, although you still see a lot of devastation. I was surprised that Spirit Lake had returned. A couple of my pics, including one showing a little of Spirit Lake:


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Old May 19, 20, 5:52 pm
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I remember studying this in year 9 geography back in 1996. I don't think I fully appreciated it until a few years later.
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Old May 19, 20, 6:09 pm
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It's pretty amazing what 40 years can do. I hike and camp up there every year and things are really coming along. It's a bit of a forgotten place. Or, at least not at the forefront of everyone's mind like it was 40 years ago. Lots of great sightseeing and camping all around.
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Old May 20, 20, 12:09 am
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For those who live in and around Portland, most/all of the buttes that are now parks such as Kelly Butte, Powell Butte, Mount Tabor are the remnants of small volcanic vents and lava flows from the Boring Lava Field (wikipedia, USGS):



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Old May 20, 20, 4:28 pm
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Dad took us down from Seattle that weekend (I was 13) to have a look at the mountain before it erupted - everybody knew it was going to blow but I don't think any of us really knew what that meant exactly. We camped that Saturday night the 17th at a local park near Mossyrock just north of the mountain; the next morning while we were eating breakfast a huge plume of ash all of a sudden billowed up over the ridge between us and the mountain. We neither heard it nor felt the eruption - but on the other side of that ridge nobody survived. We tossed everything in the RV and Dad, being Dad, drove east into the ash cloud, just because well, when would you get to do that again? We stopped in Morton, where it was quite dark by then due to the ash fall, and I have vivid memories of seeing people in their homes watching the news coverage of what was going on around them, and the temperature readout on the bank sign slowly rising in the warm volcanic fallout. I scooped up a cup of ash along with an unlucky bug who hadn't made it, and still have it to this day.

Later that year my sister and I traveled across the state to spend the summer with my big brother in Lewiston, ID (he was ATC at LWS at the time), and much of eastern Washington was still covered in ash.
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