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Mount St. Helens was struck by hundreds of small earthquakes

Mount St. Helens was struck by hundreds of small earthquakes
Mount St. Helens was struck by hundreds of small earthquakes

 



Remember the eruption of Mount St. Helens after 44 years

It's been 44 years since Mount St. Helens' deadly eruption, which left 57 people dead and spewed ash across western Washington.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Over the past couple of days you may have seen headlines wondering if Mount St. Helens volcano is about to erupt. This comes after the region witnessed hundreds of recent earthquakes.

Data indicate that about 350 earthquakes have rocked the stratovolcano since February 1, 2024.

Most of these earthquakes were too small to be felt, even on the top of Mount St. Helens.

But according to Weston Thelen, a research seismologist at the USGS's Cascades Volcano Observatory, the volcano is regaining its energy.

He explains this as pieces of magma entering the crustal magma chamber and causing a pressure change, triggering activity near Mount St. Helens.

“So far we have not seen a change in the shape of the volcano, whether inflated or deflated, nor have we seen any changes in gas production,” Thielen said. “There's no reason to worry.”

The same kind of activity was also seen from July to December last year.

The last time Mount St. Helens experienced a significant event was from 2004 to 2008, when a dome-shaped volcanic eruption occurred.

“There were other periods of recharge that had more earthquakes, larger earthquakes that lasted longer in the 1980s and 1990s, and we can really rely on those kind of events to give us context about what we're seeing now,” Thelen said.

But it's the 1980 eruption that most people remember, claiming 57 lives and spewing ash across western Washington. Seismologists do not expect this type of explosion to occur any time soon.

“The next eruption is not imminent, and these earthquakes are not telling us that something is about to happen there,” Thielen said.

Thelen adds that researchers have become more vigilant about how they monitor the volcano, and remain open to new signals that could change their assessment.

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