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Mount St. Helens volcano
stratovolcano 2549 m / 8,363 ft
Washington, USA (mainland exept Alaska), 46.2°N / -122.18°W
Current status: normal or dormant (1 out of 5)
Mount St. Helens webcams / live data | Reports
Mount St. Helens volcano books
Mount St. Helens volcano eruptions:
2004-08, 1990-91, 1989-90, 1980-86 (18 May 1980: Plinian eruption), 1921(?), 1903(?), 1898(?), 1857, 1854, 1853, 1850, 1849(?), 1848, 1847, 1842-45, 1835, 1831
Typical eruption style:
Explosive
Last earthquakes nearby
Latest satellite images
Satellite images of Mt.St. Helens by (c) Google Earth View
Satellite images of Mt.St. Helens by (c) Google Earth View
Mt. St. Helens in Sept. 2005, seen from the N with its grand amphitheatre left by the collapse during the 18 May, 1980 eruption (photo courtesy: W Heise).
Mt. St. Helens in Sept. 2005, seen from the N with its grand amphitheatre left by the collapse during the 18 May, 1980 eruption (photo courtesy: W Heise).
 

Mt. St. Helens volcano updates:

Mt. St. Helens volcano (Washington): small earthquake swarms no signs of worries

Tuesday May 10, 2016 11:03 AM | BY: T

Earthquakes under Mount St. Helens volcano during 1988-2016; magmatic recharge swarms are marked, along with the most recent earthquake swarm. (image: USGS / Cascade Volcano Observatory via Eruptions Blog)
Earthquakes under Mount St. Helens volcano during 1988-2016; magmatic recharge swarms are marked, along with the most recent earthquake swarm. (image: USGS / Cascade Volcano Observatory via Eruptions Blog)
Since the beginning of 2016, a swarm of small earthquakes has been occurring at under the volcano, suggesting that another phase of magma recharge is currently taking place.
The recorded quakes have been at shallow depths between 2-7 km under the summit and ranged in magnitudes from 0 (or less) to 3 on the Richter scale, i.e. they are all tiny. Only rarely, they exceeded magnitude 2 and only a very few might have been felt by persons being very close.
USGS volcanologists and seismologists interpret the vertical area where these quakes occurred as the area where a small amount of fresh magma has been rising into the volcano's plumbing system (a magma chamber). Magma rises, pressurizes surrounding rock to make space and causes fracturing = tiny quakes.
The current swarm is only one of a series of similar swarms that have taken place since 1988, including some much more energetic ones (such as during 1998-99). Most such earthquake swarms, not only at Mt. St. Helens, but at almost any volcano, are NOT followed by eruption, or at least not immediately. In the case of Mt. St. Helens, the large earthquake swarm during 1998-99 preceded the small effusive activity during 2004-2008 by 5 years.

For the time being, USGS keeps the volcano at alert level green (=normal); the observed seismic activity is too small to justify a raise in alert and is best seen as part of the normal activity during a dormant phase of the volcano. When the volcano will erupt again (it is almost certain that it will), is impossible to predict on the basis of these quakes alone. It might be years or even centuries.
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Links / Sources:
Previous news
Saturday, Apr 20, 2013
(Very) tiny earthquakes occur regularly at the volcano, but nothing suggests anything unusual going on at the volcano for the moment. [more]
Thursday, Feb 21, 2008
During 13-19 February lava-dome growth at Mount St. Helens continued. ... [more]
Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008
At 23-29 January lava-dome growth at Mount St. Helens continued. A steam plume that rose from the dome and slightly above the crater rim was visible on 25 January. [more]
Saturday, Nov 03, 2007
Deformation-monitoring instruments indicated that during
24-30 October lava-dome growth at Mount St. Helens continued. [more]
Thursday, Sep 27, 2007
From 19-25 September lava-dome growth at Mount St. Helens continued. [more]

Background

Prior to the 1980 eruption, Mount St. Helens formed a conical, youthful volcano sometimes called the Fuji-san of America. During the 1980 eruption the upper 400 m of the summit was removed by collapse of the slope, that left a 2 x 3.5 km horseshoe-shaped crater now partially filled by a lava dome. Mount St. Helens is a very young volcano and only about 40-50,000 years old.
It has been the most active volcano in the Cascade Range during the past 10,000 years, and the modern edifice was constructed during the last 2,200 years, when the volcano produced basaltic as well as andesitic and dacitic products from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions in the 19th century were witnessed by early settlers.


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Sources:

USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
St. Helens Information from the Global Volcanism Program


 

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