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Mount Saint Helen's Eruption

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Mount Saint Helens Eruption
Highway 504
Gifford Pinchot, Washington 98649

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens was one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in American history. Several lives and wildlife were lost in the eruption.

The first signs of a future eruption began on March 16, 1980, when a violent earthquake shook Washington state. Residents living near Mt. St. Helens were warned to evacuate the area. By March 27th, explosions on Mt. St. Helens had blown away the ice cap covering the volcano, creating a crater. About a week later, the crater had grown 1,300 feet. Finally, on May 17th, a series of earthquakes had shaken out a 450 foot bulge on the volcano's northern face.

The very next day, Mt. St. Helens erupted. The northern face of the volcano had slid away, lowering itís height down 1,313 feet. The eruption occurred on May 18, 1980 at 8:32 on the tranquil Sunday morning. The force of the eruption was equal to 27,000 Hiroshima Bombs.

Hot lava and older rock ripped its way through the nearby homes and wildlife, flattening the vegetation and buildings over an area of 230 square miles. Almost all of the lumber surrounding the volcano was lost. The eruption left 57 people dead. Over 200 homes and 47 bridges were also destroyed. The lava mixed with the ice, snow, and water in the area and caused the largest landslide in American History. For nine hours ash erupted from the volcano and by noon it had reached Idaho.

Harry Truman, a resident of Spirit Lake, was one of those in the area around Mt. St. Helens who had refused to move. After the eruption, Spirit Lake no longer existed. A Ranger in a lookout post was observing Mt. St. Helens when it erupted. The force of the volcano killed him almost instantly, his body was never found.

The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens was very destructive. The wildlife in the area, on the other hand, has flourished since the eruption. The molten material from the volcano has enriched the soil and allowed plants to grow much quicker. Today, the area is rich in wildlife which has made Mt. St. Helens a relaxing place to visit, although it was much different during the eruption of the sleeping giant.

Written by Kathrine Franklin



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