Mount Saint Helens: Devastation to Rebirth

October 30, 2022
Mount Saint Helens as seen from a distance

Many of you may remember the volcanic eruptions of Mount Saint Helens in 1980. A many of you many not have been born yet. Mount Saint Helens is one of the greatest volcanic explosions ever recorded in North America. It is also the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in United States history. Keep reading for facts and pictures of the volcano destruction.

Economic Destruction

  • 57 people lost their lives.
  • Thousands of animals were killed.
  • 250 homes are destroyed.
  • 15 miles of railways are destroyed.
  • 47 bridges destroyed.
  • Property damage and destruction totaled in the billions of dollars.

Physical Changes

  • The mountain’s summit reduced to 836.3 feet from 967.7 feet.
  • The crater formed is a mile wide.
  • Debris avalanche up to .7 cubic miles in volume.
  • 200 square miles of trees are blown down by the lateral air blast.
  • The release of superheated gas and rock debris blown out of the mountain face moved at nearly supersonic speed destroying everything within eight miles instantly.
  • The shockwave struck the forest for another 19 miles bringing down century old trees with all the tree trunks neatly aligned to the north.
  • After the lateral blast, a vertical explosion occurred sending a cloud of ash and gases more than 12 miles (19 km) into the air.
  • Over the next few days, an estimated 540 million tons of ash dispersed up to 2200 square miles (5700 square km) and over seven states.
  • The heat melted and eroded glacial ice. The melting water mixed with dirt and debris creating volcanic mudflows call lahars. The lahars reached speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) and destroyed everything in their path.
trees downed
trees destroyed by volcano
tree ripped from ground at mount saint helens
trees destroyed at mount saint helens
steam coming from mount saint helens over 20 years

Nature’s Recovery

Nature has a remarkable way of restoring itself. But it takes time. In 2010, thirty years after the eruption, you could still see signs of the devastation. Now almost forty years after the eruption, the region is still restoring itself but starting to regain greenery.

Will Mount Saint Helens erupt again?

The location of the volcano means another eruption is inevitable. Predicting when is extremely difficult. However, the last few years the seismic activity around Mount Saint Helens has been within normal range. Today, Mount Saint Helens is a reminder of the power of nature.

Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.  Debbi is  an award winning and published  travel, landscape and bald eagle photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography.   She travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.

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