Late last week, the Cascades Volcano Observatory released an information statement, in which it mentioned that Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in southwest Washington state notorious for its large 1980 eruption, is showing signs of the ongoing re-pressurization of its magma reservoir. There has been uplift and minor earthquake activity. However, there are no signs that the volcano is likely to erupt anytime soon, U.S. Geological Survey scientists told various news media last week. Erik Klemeti at Wired’s Eruptions blog said:
The volcano in southern Washington has been quiet since the last eruptive period ended in 2008 following four years of dome growth within the 1980 crater. However, just because a volcano isn’t erupting doesn’t mean that there aren’t things happening within the magmatic system below the volcano. The USGS reports that the volcano has slowly been inflating … since the 2004-08 activity ended and when combined with the low-level seismicity that has been occurring, they think that the magmatic system is slowly refilling at depths of 4-8 kilometers [about 5 miles] below the surface.
Seth Moran, a volcano seismologist with USGS told AP:
This is giving long-term (data) that it’s getting ready to erupt again, but it could be decades before it does something again.
The catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 killed 57 people. It was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the continental United States in U.S. history. The 1980 eruption knocked down a forest and filled the sky and rivers with volcanic ash.
Bottom line: There has been uplift and minor earthquake activity on Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in Washington state. However, there are no signs that the volcano is about to erupt, and the next eruption could be decades away.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.