Magma building beneath Mount St. Helens

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

St. Helens
In 1980, Mount St. Helens blew its top in a mega eruption.

In 1980, the Washington state volcano called Mount St. Helens erupted without warning, causing the deadliest and most financially devastating eruption ever in American history. It hurled debris over 230 square miles, causing a billion dollars worth of property damage, smashing forests, and triggering a 5.2 magnitude earthquake. So, when US scientists recently discovered that boiling hot magma is building up again beneath Mount St. Helens, they knew it was time to take a closer look.

The US Geological Survey (USGS), a government agency that monitors potential natural hazards from America’s landscape, released a statement on Wednesday that said, “The magma reservoir beneath Mount St. Helens has been slowly re-pressurizing since 2008. It is likely that re-pressurization is caused by (the) arrival of a small amount of additional magma 4 to 8 km (2.5 to 5 miles) beneath the surface.” Mount St. Helens was once 9,677 feet tall before the eruption blasted its dome off in the 1980 blast and is now 8,363 feet high, rumbling deep underground in anticipation of the next blast…

Fortunately, the USGS doesn’t believe that an eruption is coming anytime soon, and they explain that such a buildup is normal for an “active” volcano. After all, Mount St. Helens is not a “dormant” sleeping volcano, nor is it “extinct” like volcanoes that haven’t erupted in 10,000 years. Like other active volcanoes, when pressure beneath the Earth’s crust gets too intense around a large pocket of molten rock, the fiery magma can burst from the ground in an eruption of lava. Considering how surprising the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 was, the USGS and other agencies will be keeping a very close eye on the magma buildup.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay on Wikimedia.