Special Reports

Make a quake: Johnston Ridge Observatory open for season with several new experiences

Several new exhibits await visitors to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which opened for the 2010 tourist season Sunday.

The new exhibits at the Mount St. Helens visitor center at the end of state Route 504 include:

 • A wall-size mural of the volcano showing in detail the crater lava domes built by the 1980-86 and 2004-08 eruptions.

 • Samples of rock from lava flows 450, 1,150 and 1,900 years ago at Mount St. Helens, which is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range.

 • A touch pad seismograph that allows visitors to feel the rumble of seismic signals, including rock falls in the volcano’s crater and an earthquake 50 miles away.

 • A “Make a Quake” exhibit that encourages visitors to jump up and down, then watch their motions recorded on an older paper drum seismograph and modern digital seismograph.

 • A televised display showing how geologists monitor the pulse of an active volcano, with lapse-time images of the 2004-08 dome-building activity.

The new exhibits are the culmination of two years of work among the U.S. Forest Service, the nonprofit Mount St. Helens Institute and Mount St. Helens scientists.

Support for the exhibits included $200,000 of philanthropic funding from the M.J. Murdock Trust, the Ben Cheney Foundation and individual donors, along with $100,000 in federal stimulus money.

The observatory is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through October. Visitor information is available at the Mount St. Helens Monument website at www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm or by calling 360-449-7800.