Mount St. Helens’ Magma Levels On Rise, No Imminent Danger Of Eruption

Although Washington State’s Mount St. Helens’ magma levels have risen, evidence suggests the active stratovolcano is not going to erupt any time soon. That’s according to researchers during the yearly Seismological Society of America meeting held in Alaska.

Seth Moran, the key researcher and a Cascades Volcano Observatory seismologist, said six years ago a minute amount of magma started to pool around 3.0 miles below the 8,300-foot volcano. Both CVO scientists and scientists from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network are watching the minor earthquakes and subtle increase of the ground surface since the finale of Mount St. Helen’s eruptions between 2004 and 2008. The phenomenon that’s occurring now is similar to what was seen between 1980 and 1986’s eruptions.

The U.S. Geological Survey released a statement that said Mount St. Helens is exhibiting signs of earthquake activity and long-term uplift but that there’s no imminent eruption. The statement continued saying the PNSN and CVO were watching the mountain and noted the magma reservoir under the volcano was building pressure again.

The USGS said this re-pressurization is the result of a minute amount of magma that lies between 2.5 and 5 miles under the surface. It’s expected the statement said and doesn’t mean the volcano is going to erupt.  The statement also noted that other volcanos have similar instances and haven’t erupted for many years.

In the 1980 Mount St. Helens’ eruption, 57 people died and more than $1 billion in damage was done to infrastructure and other property.  On May 18, the area suffered a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, which led to the nine-hour eruption that destroyed surroundings areas with its volcanic ash and rivers of scorching pumice and hot mud.

Moran said area residents don’t need to worry because there is no immediate threat of this occurring again.  Long-term data, he said, shows the volcano will erupt again but it may be decades before it does so. He said the mountain could stay in the ready stage for years before it actually erupts.

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