Mt. St. Helens celebrates relatively quiet decade

Mt. St. Helens celebrates relatively quiet decade

Mt. St. Helens is marking 10 years since it last rumbled to life. In late September 2004 small earthquakes were detected around the mountain in southwestern Washington and on October 1 it erupted, throwing ash and steam thousands of feet into the air.

Eastern Washington University Geologist Chad Pritchard has been studying volcanoes and plate tectonics for years, and said it’s important to study volcanoes.

“We need to know about the hazards its important to remember that they are very dangerous,” Pritchard said.

He added the lessons we learn in Washington can be applied to other volcanoes around the world.

Since the 2004 eruption, more seismometers have been put in place to watch the sleeping giant.

“They (geologists) are starting to come out with more and more of the seismic tomography or the imaging using seismic waves or earth quakes and they are finding there is magma coming back into the magma chamber,” Pritchard said.

Since the most recent eruption a new dome has formed; scientists say it poses one of the biggest risks to those living nearby.

“If there was a wall to come down and expose that magma there could be a small pyroclastic flow or a larger landslide or even generate a lahar potentially,” Pritchard said.

With a decade gone by, time will only tell when Mt. St. Helens will reawaken, but scientists have their eye on her for the next time she rumbles to life.

“If something was to happen they (geologists) would be able to predict that,” Pritchard said.