A number of programs are planned Wednesday (May 18) to mark the 36th anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Staff from the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will give presentations in the Johnston Ridge Observatory Theater. The programs will look at some of the scientific discoveries and personal connections people have with Mount St. Helens.
At 8:32 a.m. May 18, 1980, a 5.1 earthquake caused the north face of Mount St. Helens to collapse. As the rock slide raced downhill, a huge explosion created a rock-filled wind that left almost 150 square miles of forest blown over or dead and left standing. By the time the eruption was over, 57 people died.
Here is the program schedule:
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11 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Ken Creager, earth and space sciences professor at University of Washington, will give a presentation on how imaging of magma under Mount St. Helens reveals new insights into what lies beneath the volcano, according to a monument news release.
Preliminary results from the Imaging Magma under Mount St. Helens project have revealed new insights into the location and structure of magma beneath the volcano.
The project is a four-year collaborative research experiment funded by the National Science Foundation. It is among the biggest, most comprehensive experiments undertaken on any volcano, said Peter Frenzen, monument scientist. The project involves seismic and electromagnetic experiments as well as detailed rock studies. Scientists from University of Washington, Oregon State University, Rice University, Cornell University, University of New Mexico, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, and the U.S. Geological Survey are working on this project. To learn more, see iMUSH.org.
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.: Nathan Reynolds, an ecologist with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, will talk about the relationship between mountain goats, Mount St. Helens (known as Lawetlat’la to the tribe) and the traditional culture of the Cowlitz tribe.
For thousands of years, the ancestors of the Cowlitz tribe annually traveled to the slopes of volcano to hunt mountain goats and gather wool. The fibers were spun into yarn, then woven into capes and blankets, and traded throughout the pre-contact Northwest Coast as high-status items, Frenzen said.
Since the 1980 eruption, the volcano has been recolonized by mountain goats. Biologists say the current population tops 100 goats. Biologists from the tribe, other agencies and volunteer citizen scientists are working to track population trends. Cowlitz members are again gathering tufts of goat wool in hopes of recovering the lost art of weaving goat wool.
Center open for season
Johnston Ridge Observatory, 5 1/2 miles from the Mount St. Helens crater, opened Saturday for the season. Located at milepost 52 on state Route 504, the visitor center is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 per adult. Inside, there are interpretive displays that tell the biological, geological and human story of the 1980 eruption. Visitors can watch films, attend ranger talks and hike through the landscape.
Learn more: 360-274-2140.