Tags: Mount | St. | Helens | Belches | More | Steam

Mount St. Helens Belches More Steam

Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM

A drumbeat of earthquakes since a plume of steam was released on Friday indicated that pressure was mounting within the mountain. Geological Survey crews also observed a shift in the crater floor and on part of the 1,000-foot lava dome that serves as a plug for magma, he said.

"Cracks are opening up, so we know something is pushing up close to the surface right now," Geological Survey geologist Tom Pierson told NBC's "Today" show Monday.

Scientists have said they do not expect anything close to the devastation of Mount St. Helens' May 18, 1980, explosion, which killed 57 people and coated much of the Northwest with ash.

The mountain's alert was raised to Level 3, the highest possible, after a volcanic tremor was detected Saturday for the first time since before the mountain's 1980 eruption.

Crowds have gathered along park roads at what was said to be a safe distance, about 8.5 miles from the mountain, to see what happens next. Barbecues were fired up, and entrepreneurs sold hot dogs and coffee to people camped along the side of the road.

Most air traffic was prohibited within a 5-mile radius of the volcano.

The 1980 blast obliterated the top 1,300 feet of the volcano, devastated miles of forest and buried the North Fork of the Toutle River in debris and ash as much as 600 feet deep.

This time, the main concern was a significant ash plume carrying gritty pulverized rock and silica that could damage aircraft engines and the surfaces of cars and homes.

Many spectators couldn't wait out the mountain. Sunday's sunset brought a mass exodus off the mountain.

"Our attention span is about like this," said James Wilder, 25, of Aberdeen, holding his forefinger and thumb about one-quarter of an inch apart. "We've been here five hours, and we need to leave pretty soon."

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A drumbeat of earthquakes since a plume of steam was released on Friday indicated that pressure was mounting within the mountain. Geological Survey crews also observed a shift in the crater floor and on part of the 1,000-foot lava dome that serves as a plug for...
Mount,St.,Helens,Belches,More,Steam
309
2004-00-04
Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM
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